Dating 2.0 Picks Up Speed

Sites bet on video, text messaging and social networks to amp up online dating.

ByABC News
February 23, 2009, 1:36 PM

Dec. 20, 2007 — -- It's Friday night, and your date for the evening just appeared on your computer screen. He's shifting awkwardly in his chair as he adjusts his webcam, and a comment about American Idol makes it immediately clear you haven't found your soul mate. You promptly click "End date" and -- after a few moments -- your next date appears, and you're ready to begin again.

Welcome to Dating 2.0. A bevy of new services is banking on the booming popularity of web video, text messaging and social networking to amp up online matchmaking for the Web 2.0 crowd.

"We're the antithesis of sites like Match and eHarmony," says Stephen Stokols, co-founder of speed-dating site WooMe. "It's instant gratification."

A handful of next-gen dating services updates the original online-dating sites' standard mix of exhaustive personality surveys and poring over profiles in search of a potential mate. They're the latest twists on internet dating, which drew in 22.6 million people this year, according to data collected by comScore.

Video-centered services like SpeedDate, Say-hey-hey and WooMe reel in online speed daters by offering quick registration, free memberships and the tantalizing promise of a date within minutes. Others, like Ice Brkr and Crazy Blind Date, rely on text messaging to coordinate speedy meetings.

WooMe, backed by original Skype backer Mangrove Capital Partners, allows members to create short group-video-chat sessions. SpeedDate, based in San Mateo, California, files a seemingly endless line of daters through your virtual door for three-minute "video dates" supplemented with a text client. With Say-hey-hey, users upload a YouTube-style clip of themselves, and viewers interested in a date ping the posters with intro videos of their own.

Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University at Dominguez Hills and author of the forthcoming book Me, MySpace and I, says the evolution of online dating is only natural: Even pioneer dating site is hooking up with Facebook to tap the social networking site's growing popularity.