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Search expert joins Vator Box team to evaluate the online dating/introductory site
Here are some points, Mayer and Ezra Roizen (Vator Box regular and digital media investment banker) made:
- Stephen Stokols is a smart guy, and someone with a lot of credibility and ability to make this a win
- The company has raised $17.4 million, making the volume and activity needed a significant challenge to provide a return to investors. While the audience trajectory is going up nicely, the curve needs to go up in a steeper angle
- Dating is another search problem because a lot of the same principles, such as comprehensiveness, applies. What that means is the site needs a lot more users
- Authenticity is key to making the site trustworthy, and to provide good matches. That said, the video element adds a lot to the authenticity
- Going beyond a dating site to an introductory site to find people to travel or snowboard with may be tricky. People tend to meet people first, then get together to have a shared experience. It's probably a much smaller number of people who identify an experience they want to have and search for someone to have that experience. Ultimately, you want to meet people for the primary purpose of dating (making Woome no more than a dating site - which, of course, is not a bad thing). Additionally, other venues, like Facebook or MySpace, may be better places to find people in your social circles to have a shared experience
- The potential to create a reality TV genre based on watching people dating isn't very appealing. As Roizen put it: "I think it’s slightly creepy, me watching other people hitting on other people in micro-slices... [and as a show] there's no character development."
- Suggestion: Maybe Woome can find other social platforms where they can insert itself. For instance, if people are playing poker on Zynga, besides having the option to send a drink to a person at the table, they can have the option to video chat with someone in another room.
And, now a word from our sponsor, Liquid Scenarios.
The Liquid Scenarios Minute is the time we look at valuations and exit strategies, and, most importantly, when founders do or don't make money.
Woome raised a total of $17.4 million. The company's last round of financing was a $12.5 million Series B round, with a post-money valuation of $41 million. This suggests that Woome's pre-money valuation was around $28.5 million, and that Series B invesors got just over 30.5% of the company for their investment.
If Woome were to exit at the same price Match.com sold to Ticketmaster for, Series B investors would only realize a 1.5x return on their investment if the company was sold a year from now. If the company were to sell at eHarmony's Series B pre-money valuation of $350 million, Series B investors would get nearly a 10x on cash return.
An exit somewhere in between is entirely possible because of Woome's unique use of VoIP and the way it's converting user content into entertainment, something Match.com would find difficult to do and something that would be contrary to eHarmony's business model.
The combination of video content, which is growing faster than online dating is a key differentiator. Since online video consumption is highest in the demographics first to adopt social media,Woome could likely carve out a sizable and profitable niche very quickly.
That's the Liquid Scenarios Minute.
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