PALO ALTO, Calif. – September 13, 2006 – FriendFinder, Inc., the online social and community network, has completed a decade of helping people hook up in cyber space -- at a rate of more than 150,000 new hopefuls every day.
FriendFinder was founded in 1996 by Andrew Conru, widely considered the grandfather of online dating, a system that allows individuals, couples and groups to meet and possibly develop a social, romantic or sexual relationship. Thirteen years earlier, Mr. Conru had unleashed the concept of the cyber-hookup when his WebPersonals.com website became an instant success. Convinced that the online relationship idea was a winner, he sold WebPersonals in order to devote his energies to taking the concept to the next level of social networking. Today FriendFinder offers a true community atmosphere, where dating is just one of many options.
In the past 10 years FriendFinder has registered over 130,000,000 people – some looking for a lifetime mate, others interested in a little romance, and many just seeking a friend with similar interests. Many of those who have registered over the past 10 years are still active members and visit FriendFinder and its network sites on a regular basis.
FriendFinder has developed numerous spin-offs to accommodate the tastes of its audiences. Passion.com is for those interested in “spicy” romantic liaisons. AdultFriendfinder.com, the most popular site of all with more than 1 million new registrations a month, caters to people interested in finding a more intimate but not necessarily romantic partner. AdultFriendfinder.com attracts about twice as much traffic as its nearest competitor, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.
Other FriendFinder personals sites have been developed to serve the needs of special interests. The gay community is served by OutPersonals.com and GayFriendFinder.com. Senior Friendfinder offers dating possibilities for “people with experience.” Bigchurch.com and Jewish Friendfinder help those with religious interests. There are also sites for ethnic groups of all sorts -- Amigos.com for Spanish and Portuguese, FilipinoFriendfinder offered in Tagalog and AsiaFriendfinder for the Chinese, plus IndianFriendfinder, ItalianFriendfinder, KoreanFriendfinder, GermanFriendfinder and FrenchFriendfinder.
At any given time there are at least 150,000 people logged on to FriendFinder sites. Thousands of new members take the next step each week and post their pictures on the site of their choice, while others visit chat rooms or browse listings to find someone who seems interesting, at which point they can be contacted by email or instant message.
“On some of our sites, more than 40% of all those who have registered remain on our active file,” says Mr. Conru, the CEO of Various Inc., parent company of the FriendFinder network. “Members stay active because they have built strong relationship with fellow members and because they enjoy the community and social networking features offered by the sites, such as blogs, interest groups, chat rooms, advice lines and the like.”
With FriendFinder sites, users can post photos and create their own profiles for free. Responses to questionnaires range from witty and somewhat vague to very personal and intimate. The company’s adult-oriented sites focus more on looks and personal interests, and members can post sexually explicit photos. Proprietary technology enables members to find other members living near each other and with similar interests.
Over the years FriendFinder has developed numerous services to keep its members interested and active. At any given time, there may be hundreds of members participating in dozens of chat rooms, such as the “Living Room” where the conversation is relaxed and comfortable and members can get to know each other, the “Pool Side” where the atmosphere is “fun and it’s always sunny,” or the “Soccer Room” where members can chat about football and romance, an incontestable combination. Members keep each other updated with very personal blogs hosted by FriendFinder sites. They ask intimate questions and get immediate feedback from online buddies.
It is free to join FriendFinder and a signup entitles the member to browse listings and blogs, visit chat rooms and exchange messages with people they might like to date or start a pen pal relationship with. Gold and Silver memberships, available for as little as $9.99 per month, offer “power search” tools to view photos and profiles, give priority positioning to a member’s profile, match members through a special “Cupid” service, create personalized lists of members and permit correspondence by ICQ, AIM and other instant messaging services.
“The future for FriendFinder and its network of sites has never been brighter,” said Mr. Conru. “We are rapidly moving into the mobile phone arena, upgrading payment systems to make it easier for people to purchase our premium products directly through their mobile phone carriers, and we are launching more sites that meet the needs of specific groups. We live in an era where people are very comfortable using advanced technology to become familiar with a potential partner before their first meeting, and it sure beats most blind dates or bar room hook-ups.”
FriendFinder.com is a division of Palo Alto-based Various, Inc., and is the world's largest operator of dating and social networking websites. With a staff of more than 200, Various, Inc. manages more than 20 multicultural and multilingual personals sites, for which over 130 million members have registered, with over 140,000 new sign-ups daily. The FriendFinder network includes Passion.com and AdultFriendFinder for more intimate social networking. Privately-held Various, Inc. is distinguished by its marketing leadership, technological innovation and financial strength. It is the trend-setter in the online personals sector, using its core expertise to drive both its owned and operated sites and dozens of popular co-branded partner sites. For more information visit www.friendfinderinc.com.