Zoosk files for IPO, hopes public market will fall in love with it

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on April 16, 2014

From The News Desk

Online dating site Zoosk has just filed to go public on the NY(f)SE, more than six years since its founding in 2007. This liquidity event has been a long time coming for the company, which some believed to be near IPO back in the dark ages of 2011. It has raised $61.6 million total in venture funding, with backers including Canaan, Bessemer, ATA Ventures, Crosslink Capital, and Keating Capital.

Zoosk is hoping to raise $100 million according to the filing, and plans to use the money raised for the usual snoozefest: Potential acquisitions – no deals are in the works yet according to the filing, marketing, and product development.

The IPO comes on the heels of a successful 2013 for Zoosk, where the company grew 44 percent from 18 million registered users to 26 million. It's not all good news though, as not all of those people are paying for the service. The number of subscribers willing to fork over cold hard cash is decidedly more humble:, growing 35 percent from 483,000 to 650,000 in 2013.

The growth in users did not happen by accident, or even based solely on the organic appeal of the Zoosk product. Rather, the company has thrown massive weight behind its user acquisition strategies in the past few years, from releasing quirky commercials that have gone viral to flooding Facebook news feeds with Zoosk advertisements.

Given that Zoosk’s monetization strategy is based on paying users, and not spamming them with ads a la Ok Cupid, it was in need of both cutting its burn rate and upping its subscriber numbers, before it was ready to face Wall Street. That’s exactly what it did in 2013. Zoosk’s revenues grew to $178.2 million in 2013, 63 percent from 2012, but its losses are perhaps the more interesting number. The company reduced its net losses by 87 percent in just the last year, falling just $2.6 million short of break even in 2013.

Now let’s see if the public market is smitten with this growth story, and with Zoosk's prospects for delivering long-term financial love.

[illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]