Flirtomatic Picks Up Former SayNow Exec Neil Goldberg As New CEO


Credit: Ingrid Lunden

Such is the way with relationships: not all of them last, and dating startups are no exception. Handmade Mobile Entertainment, makers of Flirtomatic, the mobile-based flirting and dating service, has announced that Mark Curtis, a co-founder of the company, is stepping down as CEO. The new CEO is Neil Goldberg, a former executive with SayNow, which Google (NSDQ: GOOG) acquired earlier this year.

An emailed statement from the company calls the change an “amicable” one, made so that Flirtomatic can move ahead with the next phase of its development. Mark Curtis (pictured) will remain a shareholder in the company.

Flirtomatic, which is based in London and San Francisco, has two million registered users in the UK, but it has also been ramping up its business in the U.S., where it has picked up two million more users since launching there some 18 months ago.

It looks like Handmade’s executive change was made support that U.S. growth. Goldberg, who is based in the U.S., has most recently been an SVP and business development executive at SayNow — the voice messaging service that got some attention during the uprising in Egypt, when people used it to transmit news when the Internet and other communication routes were disrupted. SayNow was acquired by Google in January this year.

Flirtomatic, which first launched in 2006, initially built its base on feature-phone services, but more recently it has seen a huge boost in users through the creation of platform-specific apps.

“Originally we had a mobile-internet-only approach and then in the middle of last year the started to rethink that,” Curtis told me in an interview earlier this year. “Apps have far better functionality than what you can get via the mobile web.” Features that Flirtomatic has worked into its apps include location-based flirting — that is, connecting with people in your vicinity, and identifying that through the phone’s mapping capabilities — as well as sending photos. The apps are currently available for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Android, BlackBerry and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) devices.

The mobile internet site, however, doesn’t appear to be doing very badly, either. Curtis notes that comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) has said Flirtomatic has the highest per-customer usage of any mobile site in the UK, with some 750-1,000 views per month, with monthly visitors averaging 440,000 in the U.S. and UK.

Currently some 80 percent of the company’s revenues are user-generated — people buying credits so that they can send virtual flirts to others — with the remainder coming from advertising.

He says the company is already profitable in the UK, although it has been reinvesting in order to grow its business abroad. “An America launch is not cheap,” he noted. Flirtomatic is also rolling out its business in Spain and Italy.

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