A smartphone that displays a variety of dating apps.
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It’s easy to swipe left to continue searching. So it is swipe right to like someone.
But there’s only so much hitting some people can do, especially when they have nothing to show for it. So an increasing number of singles have decided to trust an older source for history discoverers: dating makers.
Professional matchmakers have been around for decades and are ingrained into our culture. Just look at the eight-year “Millionaire Matchmaker” program starting in 2008.
In contrast to the app economy, matchmaking services often cost clients thousands of dollars, making them inaccessible to broad segments of the population.
There is an emerging group of apps and companies looking to bring matchmaking to a new generation, combining ancient methods with modern technology.
The newcomer is Luxe Clubis a members-only dating app founded in 2020 by CEO Austin Kevich.
Lox Club runs on a subscription model, and charges $96 for 12 months. The company offers all of its members access to match makers, who can set users up with one another or provide feedback about a person’s profile. Kevich said thousands of people have used the service, but he wasn’t more specific.
“Professional dating stalkers charge $10-20,000, and they’re not as aware of the dating app’s problems as their peers,” Kivich wrote in an email, without providing details of the Lox Club’s success rate. “I couldn’t stand this, nobody on our team could stand this, so we knew we’d have to make it accessible and rename it to feel like a friend helping you find dates.”
The company currently has three marriage makers and employs more.
An interest in matchmaking coincides with an increase in online dating burnout. The Covid-19 pandemic means that many data has been reduced to online options. Companies have started investing heavily in audio and video features so that users can date from home.
But with pre-pandemic activities underway, not everyone wants to rely on hours of beatings to find a date. Instead, they outsource this work to experts.
“I think people are looking for other options and I’ve seen a lot of people talking and thinking about matchmakers,” Ali Jackson, dating coach who has built a huge following on Instagram through the handle Tweet embedfor CNBC.
Lily Montaser, co-founder of speed dating company New York City amp clubPut it another way.
“Everyone is just exhausted,” she said.
Launched late last year, Ambyr hosts two to three events per month at trendy locations across the city for a select group of 10 men and 10 women. Montasser and co-founder Victoria Van Ness vet and pair 20 people for the event based on who they think would be a good fit, though they sometimes throw in a wildcard.
Ambyr withdraws from its broader group of members for events. All of them have undergone an interview and background check. Applicants pay a $60 application fee and an additional $150 per event, if selected. Ambyr says it has an acceptance rate of 15% and about 200 members in its database.
Matchmakers also take on the role of part-time therapists on dating with their clients.
“I didn’t realize how shocking it was just in today’s public dating world,” Ari Axelrod, 28, of New York, told CNBC. Axelrod works with Cassie Levine, who recently launched her company called Inquiry inside.
Axelrod has gone on two dates so far while working with Levine.
“Even if the matchmaking process didn’t work out, what I accomplished was that I feel more authenticated and confident,” he said. “So two hundred dollars for reminding you of something I didn’t even know I needed to be reminded of is worth it.”
Levine, which launched Inquire within in April, currently charges $150 per hour.
Professional players aren’t the only ones behind this resurgence in matchmaking.
The online dating giant Match Group has plunged into the matchmaking business with the app of the same name. In November, the company submitted a file human match element dating service. For $4.99 per week, Match employees will flag two profiles per week in an effort to narrow down the options. The match did not respond to a request for comment on the success of the feature.
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the number of people looking for love on dating platforms such as Match Group’s Tinder app.
Beata Zorzel | Norfoto | Getty Images
Matchmaking, by definition, is often a tedious process that requires costly human work, rather than artificial intelligence. That’s not the focus of big apps like Tinder and Hinge, which are owned by Match or Bumble. The closest thing Hinge has to offer is the “highlight” profiles feature, which shows who a user is likely to be interested in based on their swiping history.
“While juggling a lot of moving parts by hand, it’s something we see our members using and asking for more of,” said Lox Club’s Kivich. “We were surprised at first, but our members want it to be there, so we’re doing it.”
Van Ness said there’s a bit of irony in the idea that we’re “kind of trying to re-introduce that personal side.”
She said, “We laugh because when the apps were first introduced, it was so weird and everyone was like, ‘Wait, do you want us to meet a potential partner outside of the app?” “And then when we started on the Ambyr show, people had the exact same reaction. They were like, ‘Wait, you want us to meet in person again, which is very strange.'”
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