Match.com Picks Fight With Competitor Plenty of Fish

Updated: Match.com has sent a strongly worded letter — written by the company’s lawyer — to competitor Plenty of Fish, accusing the free dating service of making unsubstantiated claims about its traffic and number of users. The letter, which Plenty of Fish founder Markus Frind has posted on his blog, lists a series of almost a dozen claims that the site makes about how many dates its members have been on and how many people sign up every day (20,000 people, according to Plenty of Fish). Match.com’s lawyer Marshall Dye in the letter alleges that these claims “cannot be supported and are misleading and/or false.”

The letter from Match.com — which is owned by entertainment and media giant IAC — goes on to demand that Plenty of Fish “immediately cease and desist from making these false claims” (Update: Match has apparently sent similar letters to other competitors as well) But then it takes a dramatic shift in tone, with the Match.com lawyer offering an olive branch to its largest competitor:

If your position is that these claims are substantiated, please promptly provide me with substantiation for each of these claims by return letter. If disclosing the substantiation data concerns you, Match.com is open to entering into a confidentiality agreement.

Judging by the tone of Frind’s response on his blog — not to mention the posting of the letter itself — there doesn’t seem to be much chance of such a friendly and confidential meeting. He notes that Match.com tried to launch its own free service called Down to Earth to compete directly with Plenty of Fish (which has always had a free service), but that it has since backed away from that attempt. Frind has also posted what he says are the comScore metrics for the top dating sites worldwide, which puts Plenty of Fish in the No. 1 spot with 1.2 million average daily visitors, almost twice Match.com’s average of 680,000.

As one commenter noted on the Plenty of Fish blog post, the letter from Match.com is very similar to one that Quicken sent to competitor Mint last year asking for proof of its claims. Could the letter to Plenty of Fish be a prelude to a marriage of some kind between the two sites? Match.com has been expanding recently, and acquired Singlesnet in February. Plenty of Fish, which Frind started in his Vancouver, British Columbia apartment and still runs with only a handful of people, is by far the company’s biggest competitor, and reportedly gets over a billion page views a month.

In an ironic twist at the end of his blog post about the Match.com letter — which refers to claims about how many users of the service eventually marry one another — the Plenty of Fish founder notes that he doesn’t have a lot of time to pay attention to his competitor’s threats because he’s tying the knot this weekend.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): Why New Net Companies Must Shoulder More Responsibility

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Mark Sebastian

loading

Comments have been disabled for this post