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The Rise of Online Dating, and the Company That Dominates the Market

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How couples meet, online dating

The Rise of Online Dating, and the One Company That Dominates the Market

Couples used to meet in real life, but now more and more people are “matching” online.

While online dating was once considered taboo, the number of couples meeting online has more than doubled in the last decade to about 1-in-5. Nowadays, you’re much more likely to meet your next partner online rather than through your family or co-workers. But don’t worry, your friends are still a good help too.

The data used in today’s chart is from the “How Couples Meet and Stay Together” survey by Stanford University. This unique dataset charts a significant shift in the way couples meet each other, and demonstrates how our changing communication habits are driving massive growth in the online dating market.

The Rise of Dating Apps

The rise of online dating in the last decade goes hand in hand with the rise of dating apps.

Tinder globally popularized app-based matchmaking when it launched on iPhones in 2012, and later on Android in 2013. Unlike traditional dating websites, which required lengthy profiles and complicated profile searches, Tinder gamified online dating with quick account setups and its “swipe-right-to-like” approach. By 2017, Tinder had grown to 57 million active users across the globe and billions of swipes per day.

Since the launch of Tinder, hundreds of dating services have appeared on app stores worldwide. Investors are taking notice of this booming market, while analysts estimate the global online dating market could be worth $12 billion by next year.

But it might surprise you that despite the growing variety of dating options online, most popular apps are owned by just one group.

The Big Business of Dating Apps: Match Group

Today, nearly all major dating apps are owned by the Match Group, a publicly-traded pure play that was spun out of IAC, a conglomerate controlled by media mogul Barry Diller.

IAC saw the online dating trend early, purchasing early online dating pioneer Match.com way back in 1999. However, with online dating shifting into the mainstream over recent years, the strategy quickly shifted to aggressively buying up major players in the market.

We’re highly acquisitive, and we’re always talking to companies. If you want to sell, you should be talking to us.

–Mandy Ginsberg, Match Group CEO

In addition to its prized app Tinder – which doubled its revenue in 2018 to $805 million – Match Group owns popular online dating services like OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, and has even bought out international competitors like Meetic in Europe, and Eureka in Japan. The dating giant reported revenues of $1.73 billion in 2018.

match group timeline chart

According to reports, Match Group now owns more than 45 dating-related businesses, including 25 acquisitions.

As Match Group continues to swallow up the online dating market, it now boasts dating sites or apps in every possible niche – including the four most-used apps in the United States.

Match Group online dating users in U.S.

Despite Match Group’s dominant efforts, there are still two competitors that remain outside the dating giant’s reach.

The One That Got Away

In 2017, Match Group tried to acquire its last major competitor, Bumble – which had grown to over 23 million users in just three years – for $450 million. Bumble rejected the offer and by the next year, Match Group sued Bumble for patent infringement, for what some felt was a bargaining chip to force an acquisition.

Bumble responded with an ad in the Dallas Morning News denouncing Match Group: “We swipe left on your multiple attempts to buy us, copy us, and, now, to intimidate us. We’ll never be yours. No matter the price tag, we’ll never compromise our values.”

It remains to be seen if Match Group will be able to acquire Bumble, but another tech giant’s decision to launch its own dating service has also complicated Match’s conquest of the online dating market.

New Face in Town

In 2018, social media giant Facebook launched its own dating service—potentially leveraging its 2.2 billion active users—to join the online dating market.

While the announcement initially caused Match Group’s stock to drop 21%, it since has rebounded as Facebook has been slow to roll out their service.

Going forward, Match Group’s dominance may be hindered by anti-trust calls in the U.S., Bumble’s growth and direct competition to Tinder, and whether the sleeping giant Facebook can change the global online dating market with its own service.

Who will win our hearts?

Hat tip to Nathan Yau at Flowing Data, who introduced us to the data on how couples meet. His dynamic chart is worth a look as well.

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Business

The 50 Biggest Video Game Franchises by Total Revenue

Video games generate billions in revenue every year. Where the majority of this revenue comes from, however, may be surprising to you.

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The 50 Biggest Video Game Franchises by Total Revenue

When the world’s first video game, Tennis for Two, was revealed at a science fair in 1958, people were fascinated—there was clearly something special.

Since these humble beginnings, video games have rode waves of technological advancements to burgeon into a $100+ billion industry. To visualize this success, today’s infographic from TitleMax lists the top 50 highest-grossing video games franchises.

While this feat is impressive on its own, the way many of these franchises generate their revenue may come as a shock.

How Do Video Games Generate Billions?

Video games first saw large-scale commercial success in the 1980s, in what some describe as the “golden age of arcade games”. As arcades popped up across America, renowned classics like Pac-man and Space Invaders raked in large sums of money, one coin at a time.

Today, there are two revenue models generally followed by video game publishers—the traditional pay-to-play (P2P) model, and the newer free-to-play (F2P) model.

For much of the industry’s modern history, P2P models have been the default option. A developer incurs costs to produce its games, so it sells them to consumers to recover costs and make a profit.

Under a F2P model, however, the developer essentially distributes its games for free. Players don’t have to pay anything if they don’t want to, and the developer runs the risk that it may never recoup its costs.

So why would a developer ever choose a F2P model? Let’s look at industry data from 2019:

PlatformFree-to-play (F2P) RevenuePay-to-play (P2P) Revenue
Mobile$64.4B--
PC$21.1B$5.2B
Console$1.6B$13.8B
Total$87.1B$19.0B

Source: SuperData

Those aren’t typos. F2P games accounted for a whopping 82% of industry revenue in 2019. What’s more, is that this gap continues to grow: since the previous year, F2P revenue grew 6%, while P2P revenue fell by 5%.

The Power of Discretionary Spending

There’s a number of F2P franchises listed in today’s graphic which have grossed well over a billion dollars in total revenue.

RankFranchiseDeveloperPlatformGross Revenue
#15League of LegendsRiot Games¹PC$8.4B
#21Arena of ValorTencentMobile$6.4B
#23Clash of ClansSupercell²Mobile$6.0B
#27Candy Crush SagaKing³Mobile$4.9B
#40Maple StoryNexonPC$3.0B
#46FortniteEpic Games⁴Console, Mobile, PC$2.5B
#47Clash RoyaleSupercell²Mobile$2.0B

¹wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent, ²majority-owned subsidiary of Tencent, ³wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, ⁴Tencent owns a 40% stake.

Because these types of games are often published for PC or mobile phone (most people have at least one of these), their accessibility becomes a key advantage. This is especially true in China, where video game consoles like Xbox have been banned in the past.

Yet, simply amassing a large player base isn’t enough. With no money being paid upfront, developers must create compelling incentives for players to willingly part with their cash.

League of Legends

League of Legends, one of the world’s most popular video games, is widely considered a successful pioneer in this regard.

When developer Riot Games chose a F2P model for its game, it took a gamble. The model was largely unproven for titles of its genre, and it’s main source of revenue was set to be the sale of purely cosmetic items called “character skins”.

Nobody would have tried Legends if we put a price point in front of it because the game is tough to sell

—Marc Merrill, Co-founder of Riot Games

Part of the game’s incentive to spend comes from its longevity—League of Legends has just entered its 11th year. Rather than release a new title, the developer makes continuous improvements to the existing game, with each iteration dubbed as a new “season”.

If a traditional P2P game represents a movie, League of Legends could then be considered a long-running TV show. For example, while there’s been one League of Legends since 2009, there’s been 11 Call of Duty titles over that same time frame.

Joining the Party

Some of the world’s most successful video game franchises, which have historically published games under the P2P model, are also expanding into free games with great success.

For Pokémon (#1 in gross revenue), product diversification is nothing new. While the franchise manages a universe of offerings from physical merchandise to movies, its free mobile augmented reality (AR) game, Pokémon Go, may be one of its most successful endeavors.

The game, which leads players out into the real world to catch virtual monsters, was a massive sensation when it launched in 2016. In fact, it was so popular (and distracting) it’s been estimated to have contributed to more than 100,000 car accidents.

Four years since its release, Pokémon Go is a shining example of what the F2P model can achieve—the game has racked up over 1 billion downloads and generated an incredible $3 billion in revenues.

YearGross Revenue % Change 
2016$832M-
2017$589M-29%
2018$816M+38%
2019$894M+10%
Total$3,131M-

Source: Sensor Tower Store Intelligence

Part of Pokémon Go’s incentive to spend comes from its incredibly unique social experience—it
turns real world landmarks into hubs where players can gather. By simply leveraging the capabilities of existing smartphones, it’s also extremely accessible.

Is Free the New Norm?

As more and more franchises successfully expand into free games, it’s clear that the F2P model will be the primary driver of future growth. The relatively higher accessibility of F2P games is also crucial to tap into the quickly growing esports industry.

However, traditional P2P games, which are now being called “premium games”, still have some merit to them. These games are often associated with a higher level of quality which people are happy to pay for.

Yet, as the legitimacy and success of the F2P model continues to develop, this quality gap could also shrink in the future.

Editor’s note: The revenue figures in today’s infographic include merchandise and other related products.

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Economy

Visualized: Where 5G Will Change The World

5G is set to revamp industries around the world, but the benefits may not be equally distributed. Here’s what the global landscape may look like in 2035.

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Where 5G Will Change The World

View the high resolution version of this infographic.

We’re on the cusp of a 5G revolution.

Whereas 4G brought us the network speeds necessary for online apps and mobile-streaming, 5G represents a monumental leap forward. Beyond the improvements to our existing ecosystem of devices—more speed and better stability—researchers believe that 5G can serve as the underpinning for fully-connected industries and cities.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and for us to experience 5G’s true potential, we’ll need to be patient. In light of this, today’s infographic from Raconteur visualizes the forecasted impact of 5G to help us identify the countries and industries that will most effectively leverage its power.

5G-Empowered Industries

5G networks are expected to generate $13.2 trillion in global sales activity by 2035. To make this easier to digest, here are the five industries which stand to benefit the most.

RankIndustrySales ($B)Share of Industry Sales (%)
#1Manufacturing$4,6875.4%
#2Information and Communication$1,56910.7%
#3Wholesale and Retail Sales$1,1985.1%
#4Public Services$9856.3%
#5Construction$7314.3%

Let’s focus on manufacturing, an industry which is expected to see a massive $4.6 trillion in 5G-enabled sales.

Efficiency is the name of the game here, and researchers predict that this technology will allow for the world’s first “smart factories”. Such factories would leverage the faster speed and reliability of 5G networks to eliminate cabled connections, improve automated processes, and most importantly, gather more data.

Combined with machine learning algorithms, this data can help companies predict when expensive equipment is about to fail, reducing the likelihood of expensive downtime.

– AT&T Business Editorial

Robots won’t be the only ones to benefit, however. While today’s factories may be lined with machines, humans are still required to be onsite for troubleshooting when issues arise. Some processes may also be too intricate to be effectively automated, thus requiring a human’s touch.

With the lower latencies (shorter delay) boasted by 5G networks, virtual and augmented reality devices can become reliable enough for use in high precision work. This exciting development has the potential to greatly increase a human worker’s productivity, as well as allow them to work in closer harmony with robots.

In fact, such technologies are already being used on factory floors.

Leading The Way

Developing 5G networks and implementing them into the many industries of the global economy is a massive undertaking, and just seven countries are expected to account for 79% of all 5G-related investment.

By 2035, here’s how these countries are expected to rank.

CountryShare of Value Chain R&D
and Capital Expenditure
5G-enabled Output ($B)5G-enabled Employment
(million people)
🇺🇸 United States26.7%$7862.8
🇨🇳 China25.5%$1,13010.9
🇯🇵 Japan12.4%$4062.3
🇩🇪 Germany3.9%$1710.7
🇫🇷 France3.9%$1241.5
🇬🇧 United Kingdom3.8%$1140.5
🇰🇷 South Korea2.9%$1280.7

Incidentally, these seven nations are also some of the world’s most innovative economies.

Let’s take a closer look at the two biggest players in 5G development.

United States

It’s not a surprise to see the U.S. on top in terms of 5G investment, though it seems the country is in a peculiar position. China is right on their heels in terms of investment, and is even forecasted to surpass them in 5G-enabled output and employment.

Chinese tech giant Huawei is likely a factor behind these numbers. The company—which America has no direct rival to—is currently the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.

Developments such as these have formed the general consensus that China is winning the “5G race”, but putting America down for a second place finish may be a mistake. With renowned tech hubs like Silicon Valley, the U.S. still leads the rest of the world in terms of patent activity and high-tech company density.

There will be a tendency to cast these developments as another sign that the United States is losing the race … [but] U.S. companies can dominate the applications and services that run over 5G.

– Adam Segal, Director, Council on Foreign Relations

Part of what makes 5G so special is its potential to be used across a wider variety of applications including autonomous vehicles and manufacturing. Perhaps it’s here where American tech firms can use their innovative capacity and software expertise to carve out an advantage.

China

Being the world’s largest manufacturer means China is well-positioned to leverage the power of 5G networks. With nearly 11 million 5G-enabled jobs and over $1.3 trillion in output by 2035, China’s estimates are magnitudes larger than the other countries on this list.

A reason why China is such a cost-efficient place to make things is its well-established network of suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors. All three of these sectors are likely to implement 5G networks for improved speed and efficiency.

China is no slouch when it comes to innovation, either. In terms of patent activity, it ranks second in the world. Shenzhen, once a small fishing village, has become China’s answer to Silicon Valley, and is home to domestic telecom giants like Huawei and ZTE Corporation.

Yet, China faces serious obstacles as it seeks to supply the rest of the world with 5G equipment. Huawei is the subject of U.S. sanctions over allegations of its dealings with Iran. Further skepticism arises from the company’s dubious ownership structure, reliance on state subsidies, and claims of espionage.

Huawei’s quest for dominance in the global telecommunications industry has involved tactics and practices that are antithetical to fair, healthy competition.

– Foreign Policy (magazine)

Regardless of the damage these controversies may cause, China shows no signs of slowing down. The country already holds bragging rights for the world’s largest 5G consumer network, and even claims to have begun research on 6G, an eventual successor to 5G.

The Waiting Game

It’s important to remember that the vast majority of 5G benefits are still years away.

Thus, this next generation of mobile networks can be thought of as an enabling technology—new innovations and complementary technologies will be needed to realize its full potential.

While today’s infographic paints an intuitive visualization of the 5G roadmap, only time will tell which industries and countries actually see the most benefits.

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