Wings, the Facebook Dating App, Pulls an Icarus; Relaunches as DateBuzz.com

12/7/10Follow @wroush

It turns out there’s at least one thing that Facebook isn’t good at: helping people find dates.

Back in July I took a close look at Wings, a new Facebook dating app created by a Palo Alto, CA startup called Triangulate. At the time Sunil Nagaraj, Triangulate’s co-founder and CEO, called Wings the first example of “data-driven dating.” It was all about making matches between prospective daters based on statistical analyses of the similarities between the two parties’ social media profiles—for example, their likes and dislikes as expressed in their Facebook status updates and other online activities.

Triangulate collected $750,000 in seed funding from Trinity Ventures and Playdom founder Rick Thompson to build the app, and Facebook even made Wings a featured app in its applications dashboard, a central list of Facebook apps. But Wings never took off. Nagaraj says the explosive viral adoption that many apps have achieved on Facebook—the prospect of which is the main attraction of launching a service on the giant social networking platform—just never happened for Wings. Users weren’t “liking” the app enough or inviting their friends to join at a fast enough clip to keep the service going.

Perhaps it should have been obvious from the start, but it turns out that dating is more about trying to meet someone new than about inviting all of your Facebook friends along on your search for love. “Facebook has made people feel comfortable sharing parts of their lives, but it’s not the same with dating,” says Nagaraj. “There is still hesitation around sharing the fact that you’re dating with 500 friends. By constraining the app to within Facebook, people were getting uncomfortable.”

DateBuzz Updated ScreenshotBut while Triangulate plans to clip Wings, it’s not getting out of the dating business. All Wings users are being invited to move their accounts to a new service emerging from private beta testing today. It’s called DateBuzz.com, and it’s entirely separate from Facebook—although members still have the option to sign up and login at the site using their Facebook credentials.

Like Wings, DateBuzz has a schtick: a voting system that allows members to share what they find “dateworthy” or “buzzworthy” about other members. The service’s ultimate aim is to help members find promising dates, but the voting system is designed to help them gather feedback along the way from “co-daters” about how they’re presenting themselves and what parts of their personal profiles seem most effective to other users (whether or not those other users are scoping them out as a potential date).

Nagaraj and his Triangulate co-founders, fellow Harvard graduates David Chen and Matt Weisinger, say DateBuzz is different from other dating sites because it … Next Page »

Wade Roush is Xconomy's chief correspondent and editor of Xconomy San Francisco. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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