In 2004, Ersan Özer, a local internet entrepreneur, exited his popular site itiraf.com. Having realized a major opportunity in online dating services, he decided to invest.
The local Zip Code system of 20+ years was not totally adapted by Turkish people. Even though the Zip Codes were available, people were not aware of their own zip codes and usage was not common. This created a challenge for Online Dating where localization and matching capabilities relied on solely cities. Considering the size of Istanbul, it was simply not very practical.
Taking advantage of this gap, Ersan came up with the city-based local dating model. Partnering with local EBay affiliate gittigidiyor.com founders, they started acquiring city domains from global registrants. In late 2005, city-based Dating network was launched in top 3 cities under ‘Magnet’ name: http://www.istanbul.net, http://www.ankara.net and http://www.izmir.net. The system enabled users to find dating partners in their districts and neighborhoods.
This approach improved match-making drastically and delivered high conversions from day1. Magnet currently leads the market with an estimated 1 million active users and over 5 million subscribers served via a total of 10 domains: 9 city-based sites and a general Dating site called sevgi.net. (sevgi = love in English) Siberalem is still a major player- a close second.
The market is still maturing. Turkey, with a population of +72 million inhabitants and relatively low internet household penetration (~41,6%), offers ample growth opportunities. Turkish population is also quite young with 50%+ below the age 29. Consequently, there are still many newcomers to the online dating landscape, especially following emerging global trends on matrimony and matchmaking sites.
However, the main challenge and the opportunity lie in making Turkish internet users to start spending their money online. With high credit card penetration and low online usage of such cards, the future looks bright. Since we expect more people to use their plastic on our browsers.
# # #
Magnet is a leading digital company in Turkey, serving over 10 million users monthly. The company operates the #1 dating network. Magnet also runs UZMANTV, the first video-on demand television in Turkey.