How OkCupid's Sam Yagan And A Team Of Other Love Doctors Make Better Love Matches

Online dating has ballooned to a $4 billion business. Now the industry faces new players (Spotify) and challenges (how do you keep happy couples engaged in a dating site once they’re, well, engaged?). OkCupid's Sam Yagan shares his ideas for engineering better relationships.

Photo by Dustin Aksland

Sam Yagan

CEO / OkCupid / New York

Problem: An online flirtation is only a partial win for online dating services. To improve matching algorithms, sites need to know who goes on dates with whom and how those dates turn out.

Solution: OkCupid Labs wants to advance its mobile platform to gather new kinds of data on real-world dating behavior. Via the app, users will be encouraged to give instant feedback about their dates with other OkCupiders.

"When people talk about the impact of mobile dating, everyone focuses on real-time meeting—this idea that my pocket will vibrate every time a hot girl walks by. That's important. But it's not transformative. The thing that's underdiscussed is the ability to understand how people are behaving in the real world. Right now, the only way we can measure success on OkCupid is by asking, Did an online conversation occur between these two people? With mobile, we're going to verify who actually went on a date and then ask, How'd the date go? Putting those two data points back into our algorithm will make it that much richer. And no, this won't require a huge shift in consumer behavior. If we can do something like the Pandora thumbs-up/thumbs-down thing, that'd be great!"

Shot on location at District, San Francisco

Meet More Love Doctors:

Jessica Powell
Aaron Schildkrout
Frank Mastronuzzi


Dan Slater is writing a book about the online-dating business and what technology means for the future of relationships, to be published by Penguin (Portfolio) in 2013.

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  • Arjun Rajkumar

    I think it may work in the online dating field - As in given the limitations, this feedback tool will help if people do it AFTER the date. 

  • Summer

    OK, hold on with this idea- I would find it incredibly rude if my date was fidgeting around with his phone during a date and now with OKCupid's plan of having their members give real instant time feedback, I would be distracted now knowing he is actually sending judgements about me throughout the date. I'm quite sure many others would feel this way. OKCupid must figure out their users and behaviours better rather than expecting them to give continuous feedback.

  • FernandoArdenghi

    Please DO NOT trust research conducted by OkCupid. It is all rubbish, severely biased.

    Please see how the majority of OKCupid’s free users are big liars and cheaters, you cannot trust in what they say or do!!!
    The post of October 26th, 2009 at OKTrends says: "46% of men and 30% of women say they are a genius, they think they are one in a thousand!"

    OkCupid is for fun dating, for entertainment purposes, for instant gratifications; not for serious dating.

    Please remember:
    The 3 milestone discoveries of the 2001 - 2010 decade for Theories of Romantic Relationships Development are:
    I) Several studies showing contraceptive pills users make different mate choices, on average, compared to non-users. "Only short-term but not long-term partner preferences tend to vary with the menstrual cycle"
    II) People often report partner preferences that are not compatible with their choices in real life. (Behavioural recommender systems or other system that learns your preferences are useless)
    III) What is important in attracting people to one another may not be important in making couples happy. Compatibility is all about a high level on personality similarity between prospective mates for long term mating with commitment.