eyes China, France expansion

28 Feb 2007

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) Online dating service has decided to look overseas for some new corporate love interests.

The company planned to announce that it had finalized acquisitions of two foreign Internet services, the online dating site Netclub in France and the eDodo social networking site in China.
Financial terms were not disclosed., which was established a decade ago and now has about 15 million users, is already the world's largest online dating and personals service, according to comScore Media Metrix. The addition of eDodo and Netclub would add more than 4 million subscribers.

The deals mark a shift in the Dallas-based company's strategy. For years the company has sought to grow its subscriber base and add premium features without acquisitions. already has Web sites in more than 35 countries and in 15 languages, but company CEO Jim Safka said the eDodo deal was particularly promising because it gives its first foothold in China.

EDodo only has about 180,000 paid members, but Safka said the romance-centric site, which features instant messaging, personalized profiles and videos, is adding roughly 3,000 subscribers daily.

According to the market research firm, there are more than 64 million online singles in China, and the market is predicted to experience a 105 % growth spurt between 2004 and next year. ranks second in the French market; now Netclub gives the third-largest online dating service, Safka said. Nate Elliott, a senior analyst with Jupiter Research, said's decision to grab a social networking site like eDodo was an interesting move.

He said social networking sites and online dating services generally don't cater to the same type of customers, but he added that China was an emerging market with some unique qualities. 'This is a way to jump start that process and a way to take a big step forward in growth,' he said.

© 2007 The Associated Press

© 2007 Dialog, a Thomson business. All rights reserved

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