Online daters live and die by interpreting profile photographs. Sure, interests and hobbies are great, but when it comes to that crucial moment (to contact, or not to contact?) it’s the photo that matters. Is it recent? Is it full-body? Is it even real? This week’s Startup of the Week award goes to a site that’s adding a new dimension to online matchmaking by actually allowing users to search for matches that resemble their favorite celebrities. The best part is: they’re using Match.com’s database to do it.
Like so many barnacles, successful startups are increasingly piggybacking off behemoth destination sites to add functionality (or fun) that the sites themselves don’t have. In this case, Eyealike’s site searches Match.com’s hundreds of thousands of users, based on the celebrity features you specify. Startups like Eyealike have a bare-bones business plan: create a proprietary technology, apply it to an existing platform, and wait for the buyout requests to roll in. In the world of entrepreneurship, it’s all about marginal benefits — and for web businesses, the start-and-sell model is often the perfect equilibrium between investment and profit. The “barnacle plan” cuts the fat out of the typical Silicon Valley model by eliminating most of the advertising, PR, big tech staffs and big servers required to launch sites that people like. The result is a slim, $1.5 million company that can focus on its concept, and not necessarily the logistics of implementation. Regarding face recognition software, which is Eyealike’s core technology, the company boasts that:
“… it has an advantage because its software algorithm evaluates the complete geometry of the face rather than searching by descriptive tag words such as black hair, green eyes, or fair skin. Eyealike said it returns more accurate match results by analyzing individual features separately.”
According to Eyealike President Greg Heuss, that technology is allowing his company to avoid the hassle of building a destination site; they opt instead to be “totally focused on licensing ability.”
Thankfully, that myopic concentration on technology over implementation bodes well for the world of online dating. That is to say, Heuss doesn’t seem to really believe that people are vain enough to search out, contact, and pursue a mate just because they have Angelina’s nose or Clooney’s hair. Instead, the idea behind the site seems to be proof-of-concept, with the understanding that reliable web-based face recognition could have a plethora of more useful (and less sad) applications.
However, Heuss does note that his company is entertaining negotiations with Match.com and other singles sites interested in the functionality. Let’s hope, for the sake of humanity, that celebrity-match online dating doesn’t take off.