I studied Applied Mathematics in college, and after working on SparkNotes and eDonkey, I co-founded OkCupid with 3 far more talented people: Chris Coyne, Max Krohn, and Christian Rudder. After we sold OkCupid to Match, I became the CEO of The Match Group, which includes not just Match and OkCupid, but also Tinder, Meetic, OurTime, and about 40 other brands around the world.

Incredulously, I have been named to TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40.”

The three most common new year's resolutions involve money/career, health/fitness, and relationships, making this our busiest time of the year as millions of people make finding love a renewed priority. I've got 12 years of experience running dating businesses and all the data at my fingertips, ready to help you if I can. AMA.


Thanks so much for your questions! Please check out OkCupid, Match, Tinder, or any of our other products! I hope you enjoyed this AMA as much as I did. Best, Sam.

Comments: 1670 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

Warlizard1135 karma

I very clearly pointed out in my profile that I will totally NOT murder any of my potential matches but for some reason, I can't find true love.

Any ideas on how I can improve my odds?

Sam_Yagan643 karma

Maybe have a more inviting username than "warlizard"? :)

CatsPajammies281 karma

Could you please implement a function on OkCupid that allows for people to search and see if they're in their matches' preferred age range? This is a common addition that gets asked for a lot on /r/okcupid

Sam_Yagan174 karma

I'm not sure we'll do it exactly that way, but we have often discussed ways of enforcing people's age preferences. The problem is that not everyone cares about their age ranges equally, meaning that many people don't at all mind chatting with people outside their ranges -- their ranges are a preference, but not a firm filter.

bhalp1214 karma

Is online dating "good" for society? Why or why not, and what are the potential unintended consequences of this behavior?

Btw, I met girlfriend of over a year on OkCupid, so thanks! :)

Sam_Yagan313 karma

I love this question. I've long believed that dating apps truly make society better, in several ways:

1) Undoubtedly, greater choice leads to the selection of higher quality spouses.

2) Technology makes it easier to meet people who are less similar (farther away, different socioeconomic levels, different ethnicity, etc.).

3) The ease of getting back in the dating market makes empowers people in bad relationships to leave them, knowing that loneliness isn't the only alternative to their current situation.

jairachi156 karma

Being the CEO of a group that discernably specialises in finding love, have you personally used any of your services and subsequently found success?

Sam_Yagan399 karma

Here's some OkCupid trivia: None of the four founders has ever been on an online date of any kind.

OkAlt96 karma

Yea, I've heard that before. I've always wondered though, "why not?". Is there any specific reason you guys chose to not try out online dating yourselves?

Sam_Yagan318 karma

We were all dating our future wives when we started OkC. And before that, we were basically in college where online dating wasn't really pervasive.

Joseph_KP133 karma

How has the role of data and algorithms changed in the life of OKCupid? I feel like initially, it was more data-driven and gave users more access to match percentages. Lately, the interface has felt more Tinder-like, focusing on spending less time per match and showcasing photos and quick blurbs of text if any. Do you think this trend of focusing on quick, picture-based interactions will continue? Thank you!

Sam_Yagan141 karma

I wouldn't say it's about picture-based or not picture-based. Pictures are always important in any dating environment. More important, though, is the form factor. The average person checks her smartphone over 100 times a day and the average time a person spends in an app is about 90 second. Consumers now expect to get value from an app in under a minute, while we at OkCupid are as data-geeky as ever, the interface for users will continue to evolve to feel as current and relevant as possible.

link287101 karma

Does the free-ness of OKC attract a different group of people as compared to Match's subscription fee? Do you think this would even go as far to affect the relationship that could be formed from each site? Which site see's the most traffic? How does that relate to matches? Last one, how it feel know you're sites have paired literally tens of thousands of people together?

Sam_Yagan136 karma

Each dating product attracts a different user, and "freeness" is just one component (Tinder & OkC attract different users; Match and OurTime attract different users, etc.). So, yes, Match users and OkC users are different. I hate talking about "better quality" when referring to human beings, but it is true that people who pay for Match likely have higher intent than people on OkCupid or Tinder.

tonywork8879 karma

You've owned and sold many successful companies. What are some of your best productivity tips?

Bonus question: What's your favorite color?

Sam_Yagan116 karma

I'll take the extra credit first: Orange. :)

As for productivity:

1 - I view every minute as previous and try not to waste time doing anything that isn't very productive or very enjoyable.

2 - Email can be a huge waste of time or incredibly efficient. For me, it's the latter; I write about 25,000 emails a year and it's easily my primary mode of communication.

3 - I set priorities and try to stick to them. If I am working on something really important or really urgent, I ask myself why I am doing it.

ottawapharmer43 karma

Hi Sam! I was wondering what historical data tells us about all these new users (for both genders) that pop up at the beginning of the year, presumably because they made finding love part of their 2015 resolution? Sometimes I wonder how many of them will actually end up sticking around the OKCupid community, or will most of these 'rush' profiles end up being abandoned/deactivated in a few days, much like gym goers in January disappears after the first week, and not really worth messaging?

By the way, thank you for founding OKCupid! You've helped me find happy, meaningful relationships that helped me grow over the years :)

Sam_Yagan76 karma

Great question. While certainly a few of the people who signup for dating apps in the new year's rush don't stick around, the vast majority do. Not sure how that compares with gym memberships, but my guess is that dating apps do better since they don't require you to actually get out of your house, show up at a gym, and then exercise. You can just fire up the app wherever you are and then have fun on dates. Dates are better than treadmills! :)

read_dance_love107 karma

But treadmills might lead to better dates.

Sam_Yagan83 karma

I think you've just come up with the next big thing!

jbwncster37 karma

Why do high matches on okcupid ignore each other? Am I not grabbing peoples attention? Why is it harder for same sex daters to find dates on okcupid?

Sam_Yagan66 karma

On your second question, I believe that OkCupid is the dating app of choice for most same-sex daters. We have always welcomed same-sex daters and individuals from other marginalized communities.

Why do high matches ignore each other? Well, most people ignore other people -- online and offline -- but Christian has done the research and we know for a fact that high match percentages definitely increase the probability that two people will communicate.

If you send me a link to your profile, I can try to see if I have any suggestions to make it more grabby. :)

Iggtastic29 karma

What has been the biggest challenge of your career?

Sam_Yagan43 karma

Gosh, so many. I think the biggest challenge was turning OkCupid around. In 2009, OkC really wasn't doing well. Growth had slowed. We were running out of money. We'd been doing it for six years and the founders were all getting impatient. But we all dug in and saved the company, turning it in to what it is today.

JustWing23 karma

What do you think is the biggest hurdle in making internet dating "cool"?

Sam_Yagan59 karma

It gets more and more mainstream every day. I dont even really care about "cool" i just want it to be "normal." I want everyone who wants love/friendship/dates/relationships to have them. I want to contribute to that mission every single day. And I dont want anyone to be deprived of affection or companionship because the most effective tool ever created -- online dating -- is somehow not "cool" or "normal" enough. It just makes me sad.

dyorel22 karma

Hi Sam, thanks for this AMA!

I was really wondering how a day in the life of Sam Yagan looks like.

Bonus question - What are some of your hobbies, and how do you get by a weekend?

Sam_Yagan61 karma

I spend a lot of time traveling (we have offices in Dallas, NYC, LA, Paris, Rio, SF, etc.), but when i wake up at home, I typically get up early (today was 5:15) go for a run (today was 5k) and get my kids ready for school and off to the bus stop. I try to be at work by 8 and spend most of my day talking to the people who run the various businesses (Tinder, Match, OkCupid, Meetic, etc) or our big functions (Technology, product, finance, marketing, analytics, etc.). Then home for dinner with the family, before catching up on email after the kids turn in.

Hobbies? I used to have them. Now I just have little kids. :)

I_smell_awesome15 karma

What's your favorite kind of soup?

Sam_Yagan21 karma

Used to be cream of mushroom. Now probably something with butternut squash or corn. Or both.

BardLemon13 karma

How do you feel about people using your sites for side action? It's unfortunate, but I know it does happen.

Sam_Yagan45 karma

Whenever I think about online dating, i always start with the offline dating analog. I don't condone "side action," whether found online or offline, but it's not the bar or the dating app at fault, of course, it's the "side actor."

LimBomber13 karma

Did you ever compile the data you have collected over the years and published it? Also as a current college student I'm interested in how your education in mathematics helped you in a business career?

Sam_Yagan15 karma

First, look at http://blog.okcupid.com/.

Second look at http://www.amazon.com/Dataclysm-When-Think-Ones-Looking/dp/0385347375.

Finally, yes, I think technical backgrounds are probably the most helpful for people in business.

jacquesfu7 karma

What do you think of niche dating sites like farmer's only? Do you think it's a fad or will they persist in the marketplace?

Sam_Yagan27 karma

I love niche dating products -- we have a bunch in our portfolio, including OurTime (50+) and BlackPeopleMeet. Of course, Jdate (not ours) proves just how pervasive a brand can become by specializing and focusing on one segment. As for Farmers Only, not sure about the business, but I love the ads!

[deleted]6 karma


Sam_Yagan8 karma

Good catch. My guess is that was several years ago (2010 or 2011?), when we once had an issue with our admin tools. As for our own employees, we log all of the user account access that happens, and review it for impropriety.

[deleted]5 karma


Sam_Yagan9 karma

I'll look into that. Thanks.

Kingdariush6 karma

What's the next big things in internet dating? If speed dating came along after traditional dating, and internet dating came after that, what will be the next big leap in internet dating outside the traditional bar hook up?


Sam_Yagan8 karma

Well, only in the last year have we really seen mobile apps really overtake desktop apps not just in usage, but in functionality. Let's see how apps + mobile data + social presence evolve over the next couple years before we look beyond that.

kai3336 karma

What do you feel are the biggest pros and cons to online dating as a whole? Or, in your interpretation of the data, what do you see as the biggest pro and con?

Sam_Yagan10 karma

Great question. I actually don't know what the cons are. What are the cons to ecommerce? What are the cons to email? I mean, sure, there's a time and a place for everything, but no one ever asks "Do you shop online" or "do you communicate online" yet people still ask "do you date online."

Biggest pro is that you get dates. :)

agmaster3 karma

Do you feel wiser in the business, personal, or maybe technical field? How much do the arenas overlap?

Sam_Yagan3 karma

I'm not sure I feel "wise" (just thinking about being wise makes me feel old!) about anything, but I'd say I have the least knowledge about technology. While I have run technology companies and I studied and taught computer science in college, i never call myself a technologist.

Personally, I always feel like i can be a better friend, husband, and father, so I'd put that second to last.

Which I guess makes business #1, just by process of elimination.

I'd say there's pretty little overlap. I know people who are really good at one, but not the others. And very few people are great at all three.

girlspeaking3 karma

I met my now boyfriend of one year through tinder (of all places). Everyone looks at it as a hookup app, although I really used it to find someone long term. What do you view it as?

Sam_Yagan4 karma

I know so many people who have met their boyfriends, girlfriends, fiances, fiancees, husbands, and wives on Tinder. Do people hook up on Tinder? Sure, but it's hard to get married without hooking up, no? I bet even people on eHarmony hook up! I look at Tinder right up there with Match and OkCupid as one of the three best ways to find a relationship.