The Business Times

Two homegrown dating startups acquired for undisclosed sums

Synergy and strategic moves cited in migme's takeover of LoveByte, and Lunch Actually's acquisition of Lola

Published Thu, Oct 16, 2014 · 09:50 PM


TWO homegrown online dating startups have found their princely matches. LoveByte, a social networking app for couples, has been picked up by migme, an Australia-listed, Singapore-based social networking platform, while dating app Love Out Loud Asia (Lola) has been snagged by dating website Lunch Actually.

Both acquisitions, whose sums could not be disclosed, were announced on Thursday.

That of LoveByte - a three-year-old startup and brainchild of Steve Sng and Amelia Chen - was a strategic move aimed at enhancing migme's engagement and monetisation options through premium services, Steven Goh, chief executive officer (CEO) of migme, told The Business Times.

migme, a social networking platform valued at around A$75 million (S$84 million), based on its closing share price of A$0.33 on Thursday, offers predominantly free blog, chat and entertainment services on its website, said Mr Goh. At present, migme has about five million active monthly users.

LoveByte, which caters solely to couples, provides a private social networking space for them to communicate, share and timeline moments together. It has over 200,000 active mobile users currently.

Said Ms Chen: "Under migme's experienced team and leadership . . . we will continue to improve LoveByte's existing features, make private sharing better and expand our 'discovery' feature to help couples maintain the spark in their relationships."

According to migme, the terms of the acquisition involve a purchase price of over 750,000 migme shares, which will be issued next July and be "part of a larger package".

The four-men LoveByte team will move from its current co-sharing space at popular startup hub Blk71 into migme's office at Peninsula Plaza in the next few months.

Meanwhile, mobile dating startup Lola (founded only a year ago) has been swept off its feet by 10-year-old Lunch Actually, a pioneer in the dating and matchmaking industry in South-east Asia.

Currently, the latter has over 350,000 users on its website in five cities (Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Jakarta) while Lola has seen over 350,000 matches across Singapore, Manila, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur since last October.

"As smartphone technology and mobile apps are fast becoming a staple part of the life of a modern-day busy working professional, we have been on the lookout to collaborate with mobile dating apps. Lola is our entrant into the mobile dating app space, as we continue to improve and innovate the Lola app," said Violet Lim, CEO of Lunch Actually.

The new Lola app is expected to launch early next year; existing Lola members will remain in the Lola database and not be integrated into Lunch Actually's platform, Ms Lim added.

When asked if there are synergies between both companies given their differences in space and maturity, both told BT they make a good fit.

"We had concerns that being part of a primarily brick-and-mortar company may impede our creativity as well as entrepreneurial spirit," said Kenneth Lim, a co-founder of Lola. "But having worked closely with the Lunch Actually team, we have come to a quick realisation that, despite being a 10-year-old company, Lunch Actually's culture is positive, high-energy and entrepreneurial.

"There is good balance between a sound structure and a strong startup spirit. Now, with added resources and a robust dating ecosystem from Lunch Actually, we're one step closer towards achieving our goal of becoming the No 1 mobile app for serious daters in the region."

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