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Zoosk is an online dating service available in 25 languages and in more than 80 countries.[1] The company earned the no. 29 spot in The Wall Street Journal's The Next Big Thing 2011 – The Top 50 Venture-Funded Companies list[2][3] and was named one of the San Francisco Bay Area's Best Places to Work in 2014.[4] Zoosk was founded in 2007 and its headquarters are in San Francisco, California.[2][5] The founders of the company are Shayan Zadeh and Alex Mehr, who ran the company until December 2014.[6] After struggles that year, Kelly Steckelberg became the company's new CEO.[7]



Zoosk launched in December 2007. Its co-founders, Shayan Zadeh and Alex Mehr, are the company's co-CEOs.[2][3][5] Zadeh and Mehr met as undergraduates at Sharif University of Technology in Iran and travelled to the US together to attend graduate school at the University of Maryland.[8] Zadeh worked at Microsoft after graduating with a master's degree. Mehr earned his master's degree and PhD and later worked for NASA. Mehr attended business school at the University of California at Berkeley, but he dropped out to work on Zoosk.[9]

In April 2014, Zoosk filed S-1 paperwork for an initial public offering as it seeks to raise $100 million in capital.[10] In the S-1, the company reported 2013 revenues of $178.2 million, a 63% increase over the previous year, and that it had cut losses 87% to $2.6 million.[10] It has 27 million members,[6] of which 650,000 are paying subscribers, and its membership is growing 44% year-over-year.[10][11] Zoosk has reached the position of no. 1 grossing dating app and a top 25 grossing app on the Apple iOS App Store.[11]

Despite $200 million in revenue collected in 2014, as well as a profit the previous year, Zoosk lost money in 2014. This is due to the company overspending on expansion and overhiring. The company was also operating on the start-up principle that profits do not matter. With these problems at the company, Zoosk canceled its IPO in December. In January 2015, they laid off 15% if their staff. To improve revenue, the company decided in November 2014 to require a paid membership to send messages.[7]


Zoosk has an iOS and Android app and a desktop chat client. Zoosk uses big data and algorithmic recommendations technology to help users find partners.[11] Its "proprietary Behavioral Matchmaking engine" learns from users' clicks, messaging, and other actions to help produce more accurate matches.[11] The idea is that the more data Zoosk obtains from its users, the better its recommendations can be.[11]

In August 2014, Zoosk added its Photo Verification service, designed to prevent users from "posting photos of themselves when they were 10 years younger or 20 pounds lighter".[12] To verify a photo, users are asked to take a video selfie in order to record their appearance from multiple angles. Zoosk moderators then determine if the user's profile photo and video match. When they do, the user receives a green check next to his or her photos.[12] The feature was released first to the Zoosk iOS app, followed by Android.[13]

Zoosk users are aged 18 and older.[14] It uses gamification and popularity rankings to encourage participation.


Zoosk's investors include Bessemer Venture Partners, ATA Ventures and Canaan Partners.[3] The company has raised more than $60 million in equity.[11]

Pricing model

Until November 2014, Zoosk charged no fee to start using the app and to send one message to another person. Since November 2014, contact and interaction beyond the first message per person requires a premium (i.e., paid) subscription.[15][7]

Awards and recognition

In 2014, Zoosk was named to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America, ranking no. 1660.[16]

In 2014, Zoosk was named one of the Bay Area's Best Places to Work by the San Francisco Business Times in the Medium Size company category.[1] The same year, the San Francisco Business Times also named Shayan Zadeh to its 40 Under 40 list of Bay Area entrepreneurs.[17]

The Wall Street Journal ranked Zoosk no. 29 on its The Next Big Thing 2011 – The Top 50 Venture-Funded Companies list, up from the No. 42 spot the previous year.[2]

About.com's 2011 Reader's Choice Awards named Zoosk's iPhone app a finalist in its Best Dating App competition.[18]

In 2010, Zoosk was nominated for a Crunchies award for Best Time Sink Application.[19]

Also in 2010, Zoosk was featured in the Flo Rida and T-Pain single "Zoosk Girl".[20]

According to AppAppeal, in August 2012 Zoosk was the fifth most popular dating app in the world and the third in the U.S.[21] In 2012, the company also won an Effie Award for its advertising campaign "Online Dating, Your Way".[22][23]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "What is Zoosk?". Website. Zoosk. https://about.zoosk.com/en/about/. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "The Next Big Thing 2011 - The Top 50 Venture-Funded Companies" The Wall Street Journal Accessed September 6, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Kincaid, Jason "Zoosk Lands Another $30 Million for Social Dating" The Washington Post Accessed September 6, 2012
  4. "Zoosk Voted one of the Best Places to Work in the Bay Area!". Website. Zoosk. https://about.zoosk.com/en/blog/dating-advice/zoosk-voted-one-best-places-work-bay-area/. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Zoosk profile" CrunchBase Accessed September 6, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Form S-1". Form S-1 registration statement. SEC.gov. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1438964/000119312514146003/d672159ds1.htm. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Roberts, Daniel (March 25, 2015). "Meet the woman tasked with saving Zoosk". Fortune. http://fortune.com/2015/03/25/zoosk-kelly-steckelberg/.
  8. "Online Dating Website Zoosk Files for IPO of Up To $100M". Fox Business Network. 2014. http://www.foxbusiness.com/industries/2014/04/16/online-dating-website-zoosk-files-for-ipo-up-to-100m/. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  9. "Shayan Zadeh & Alex Mehr Interview" Vimeo Accessed September 6, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Bercovici, Jeff (16 April 2014). "Zoosk Files For IPO; Here's What You Need To Know". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2014/04/16/zoosk-files-for-ipo-heres-what-you-need-to-know/. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Lawler, Ryan (16 April 2014). "Online Dating Site Zoosk Files For $100M IPO, With $178M in Revenues And A$2.6M Net Loss in 2013". TechCrunch. http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/16/zoosk-s1-ipo/. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Lapowsky, Issie (21 August 2014). "This Dating Site Is Teaching the Internet an Important Lesson About Anonymity". Wired. http://www.wired.com/2014/08/zoosk/. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  13. Moscaritolo, Angela (21 August 2014). "Avoid Getting Catfished With Zoosk Photo Verification". PC Magazine. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2463835,00.asp. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  14. "CrunchBase". CrunchBase. http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/zoosk. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  15. "Do I Have To Pay? : Zoosk Help". Zoosk.zendesk.com. 2011-01-11. https://zoosk.zendesk.com/entries/388204-Do-I-have-to-pay-. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  16. "Inc. 5000 2014". Inc.. http://www.inc.com/profile/zoosk. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
  17. Staff. "Shayan Zadeh: CEO and co-founder, Zoosk". Website. http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/print-edition/2014/02/28/shayan-zadeh-40-under-40.html. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  18. "Best Dating App Readers' Choice Award 2011 Finalists". About.com. Retrieved September 9, 2012
  19. Kincaid, Jason "Congratulations Crunchies Winners! Facebook Takes Best Overall For The Hat Trick" TechCrunch Accessed September 9, 2012
  20. "Girl Song (with Lyrics) - Flo Rida & T-Pain. Watch and download!". Zoosk. https://www.zoosk.com/zoosk-girl-song. Retrieved 2014-08-10.
  21. "The Most Popular Dating App Per Country" AppAppeal Accessed September 10, 2012
  22. "Effie:Zoosk" Effie Worldwide Accessed September 9, 2012
  23. "Effie Awards" Advertising Educational Foundation Accessed September 10, 2012

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