Sam Yagan, the CEO and co-founder of OkCupid, is trying to persuade Internet daters to go back to blind dating. It seems counterintuitive.
Asked if he’d ever had a fun blind date, Yagan said “Well, no, because they were set up by my mom.”
He’s betting that the blind date app his company launched today will prove that a machine algorithm can do better than users’ moms and nosy aunts at finding them a date.
Users who create an account using the app, Crazy Blind Date, are asked to provide their name, age, sexual preference, favorite spots and available free time. They submit a picture, but other uses see a Cubist-inspired fragmented rendering that can best be described as suggesting what the pictured romantic prospect might look like.
Users who link their Crazy Blind Date account to existing OkCupid accounts will benefit from the online dating site’s match ratings, which stem from users’ answers to dating-related questions and their rankings of other users. Users who don’t have an OkCupid account, or choose not to link it, will be dispatched to meet their blind dates based on little more than age and sexual preference.
“We think it’s the perfect complement to what we’re already doing. It really does what online dating applications have promised to do, which is get users out on real dates,” Yagan said.
After each date, users will be invited to review their dates, allowing the app to provide better matches next time, or at the very least see whether Crazy Blind Date reduces or increases the chance of being stood up.
“It takes the work out of it for the women and gives instant gratification for the men. Here there’s no excuse not to go out on a date every night of the week,” Yagan said.
His statement reflects feedback female and male users have given about using OkCupid to arrange a somewhat-less-blind date using its messaging system.
But isn’t scrambling the picture just cruel?
“We were trying to be true to the idea of a blind date,” Yagan said.
Of course, a photo with age and sexual orientation might have made the app dangerously similar to Grindr, which has earned a reputation for being little more than an anonymous hook-up app, or its heterosexual counterpart, Blendr, which hasn’t really taken off.
The scrambled photo aims to make the prospective date seem more real than a gray box would, hopefully reducing the risk for no-shows, Yagan said.