Match Inc's CEO Sam Yagan Reveals How maths And Data Predict Love Online


This post is part of the “Future of Business” series, which examines how cutting-edge technologies are rapidly reshaping our world, from how businesses run to how we live. “The Future of Business” is sponsored by SAP.

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How do online dating sites predict who will be good matches on their networks? Which algorithms are used to accurately predict chemistry between two people?

Sam Yagan is the co-founder of OkCupid. He now runs all of Match Inc for IAC. Yagan says IAC’s dating companies crunch billions of data points and find up to 100 initial matches for users. Two of the most important factors its algorithms look for are users’ locations and ages. Then, they look at things users explicitly say in their profiles, such as interests and religion, and things they implicitly reveal, like which types of people they message most often.

Data can reveal things about people they didn’t know about themselves. For example, Yagan says things people often list as dealbreakers, like users who smoke or are of different political parties, tend not to be.

Of course, there are some things about falling in love that maths and data can’t predict.

“Dating is a numbers game,” says Yagan, noting that the average adult goes through 10 relationships in his or her lifetime. “What we try to promise is good first dates. Once that first date happens, it’s really up to you.”

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