How to make a fortune with only a database of guys who are willing to get acquainted with a pretty girl? How to earn 204.9 million US dollars on dating only? Namely, that was the estimated value of Polyakov’s company Cupid plc at the peak. Help comes from… flirting chat bots.
Max Polyakov (not to be confused with the people’s deputy) made a fortune on the dating websites. While still in Zaporozhye, in the late 2000s he created a dating empire Cupid plc. In the period of maximum take-off – in 2012 – the company received revenues of 125.4 million US dollars, and its capitalization reached 204.9 million US dollars. Cupid was the first Ukrainian IT company to enter the IPO. After the scandal in 2013, when the media began writing unpleasant things about the company, Polyakov sold most of the assets to Together Networks, which, incidentally, also belongs to Polyakov. In fact, what is behing that renaming is the fact that the Zaporozhye businessman sqeezed his partner Bill Dobbie out of the business and got full control over the jointly constructed empire. At the moment, the holding includes 9 sites: Flirt, QuickFlirt, BeNaughty, NaughtyDate, Loveaholics, UpForIt, IWantU, AffairDating, IAmNaughty.
Another part of the sites went to another Polyakov’s offshore in the British Virgin Islands Tradax IP Licensing Limited. Together with the company NSI Holdings the number of the company’s websites has increased many-fold. Today, there are 8 projects: Cupid, SpeedDaterEvents, Serencomtrer, GirlsDateForFree, UnformDating, MatureDatingUk, LoveAgain, LoveBeginSat.
Here are listed only those sites that are officially part of the Polyakov’s Group of companies. In fact, there are many more of such resources. There are local dating services in the US, in France, Germany and the UK. All of them are developed and serviced by the same companies, but are not part of holdings.
Like Cupid, the main technical component of all Polyakov’s resources is in Ukraine. This can be seen on the example of specialists who have moved from one company to another and by the example of employees who work on offshore projects.
All dating sites of Max Polyakov’s empire are blocked for the Ukrainian market. They are focused on the US and European countries. Why? Because the activities they conduct in the US, contradicts the criminal code in Ukraine. And here it is worth returning to the scandal of 2013: the accusations that caused the rebranding and reassembly of the “dating empire” were voiced even then. The main one is deception of users by using bots that imitate living people.
In order to study the sites, we had to use American and European IP-addresses. All sites are made according to one template, they are almost copies: the same registration pages, fields with participants and work systems. At first glance, these are innocent dating sites that work in the legal field.
Polyakov’s earnings are through multiple additional features: the ability to see more photos, send more messages, see more accounts. For all this you have to pay. But how to get people to leave money, and a lot of money, on a shareware site? Bots come into business. In order to increase profitability, dating sites use thousands and tens of thousands of bots that simulate communication with a live user. Immediately after registering on any of Polyakov’s websites, dozens of messages come to the new user. In an unfilled profile.
It happens that such messages come from different people, but with the same photos. In this case, only the message header is visible to the user. In order to read or reply to it, the user needs to subscribe to a paid version and connect additional services. All of them are also paid. True, there is no communication: sex bots are too primitive and can not yet pass the Turing test.
All these profiles are bots, which the programmers of the dating site create to attract customers. It’s difficult to say what is the percentage of real users on the site. It seems that the number of bots on dating sites of Max Polyakov’s empire has reached a critical number. In order to avoid direct charges of fraud, lawyers had to write an explanation and force users to personally agree to become a victim of scammers.
“We can periodically create profiles, the creation, support and administration of which will be handled by our employees (hereinafter – ” service profiles “). The purpose of these service profiles is to ensure the proper functioning of our services by testing services, capabilities and functions, and also by studying our products and services. ”
In fact, the company warns that it uses bots. The sites slyly note that bots are used “only to check the system.” Otherwise, such an approach could be officially equated with fraud in the network. On the other hand, in order to “check the system” one can create an infinite number of profiles-bots and send an unlimited number of messages. That is what Polyakov’s dating websites deal with.
Administration of these sites occurs in Ukraine, and those websites do not operate in our country. Therefore, they do not become an object of interest to the police.
Also, in terms of using dating resources it said that the administration of the site can use the user’s information, including photographs, for their own purposes: to outsource to third parties, partners and use in advertising.
It is obvious why that is done: the information of any user registered on the site can appear on another resource of the empire as a profile-bot, and on your behalf it will get acquainted with living people and provoke them to leave money for paid subscription and other services. Of course, this is where the creators of websites already are on the verge of law. Both in Ukraine and the United States, the criminal code defines fraud as taking possession of another’s property or acquiring the right to property by deceit or abuse of trust. Polyakov’s sites are saved from allegations of fraud by a public offer.
To sum up, the main strength of Max Polyakov’s dating empire is the economical and full utilization of living people, their attention and information provided by them. Legal dating sites that are part of the orbit of Together Networks, attract crowds of people who are searching the Internet for love and affection every day. Then these people are sorted: part of them goes to “adult” sites and pays for porn chats. The other part is also sorted: some become donors of photo and personal information for chat bots, and the rest (Americans) pay for the pleasure of “getting to know” the first. This waste-free production is very similar to the incineration plant. It’s quite nice that the creator of such a large-scale and ramified scheme is our fellow countryman. It looks dubious from a moral point of view, and conservatives might even demand some blood. But the fact remains: girls earn, businessmen earn, Americans spend (but enjoy), and Polyakov’s scheme works.