Plenty of Fish - A Bootstrapped Success Story?

As most of you might have heard by now, Plenty of Fish, a very profitable, bootstrapped company, also founded and operated by a solo founder, was recently acquired by Match Group for $575 million. POF’s CEO Markus Frind had a pretty awesome blog which I think we can glean some insight and learn some things from. Personally, I think he’s quite an inspiration, truly a master of growth hacking and A/B testing even before those terms were coined.

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I agree he’s a huge inspiration. Also note how you never see him do the Silicon Valley interview circuit, he doesn’t need to as he’s profitable just caring about his customers. I like the simplicity of not having all those stakeholders.

With a 575 million exit he’s also doing better than your average Silicon Valley unicorn that tends to have 2-3 co-founders and an investor pool that owns a majority by the time of exit. Plus he already has millions in the bank from having actual profits all along.

Like I said, an inspiration.

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I don’t find it inspirational at all. To be sure, I’m happy for him - I’m always glad to see people be successful, and I wish it for everyone - but I have a hard time drawing any kind of inspiration from it.

Smaller-scale, predictable, repeatable successes are much more inspirational, IMO. If it’s something that I, myself, can potentially break down into steps and duplicate, I’m in!

Gigantic $500M exits are extremely edge-case, unpredictable and non-repeatable happenings; it’s hard to get excited about them. Do you draw inspiration from people winning the lottery? It’s kind of like that.

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Wow I had no idea pof was a solo founder. That’s pretty incredible that he made it that far as a solo founder. I think that’s the biggest solo founder business revenue-wise that I’ve ever heard of.

Nope, didn’t misconstrue anything. And I’m not ignoring anything about the success of POF.

You know, people aren’t always going to agree with whatever point of view you put forth in your OP. If you intend to stick to this whole internet thing, you should probably get used to that.

I have to agree. This are millions and millions of dating websites, and why one succeeds over another is just black magic.

I’m more impressed by the small guy/gal working on their project in the evenings/weekends, who finally make enough to quit their jobs and do what they love full time. Because I know I can emulate them.

Like @Christopher, I am happy for POF and Markus, but asking to emulate him is like telling a new writer “Hey, all you gotta do is write a book about a boy wizards who goes to magic school, and you have it made. If JK Rowling can do it, why can’t you?”

The inspirational part (for me) is not ‘hey this shows I can easily create my own 500+ million business’ but rather ‘hey even if my business makes it big one day there’s no need to become a classic VC funded startup’.


Let’s keep it friendly in here gents :smile:

An interesting anecdote. HelpSpot has a few major dating sites as customers. They have very large staffs, I think what he’s done is amazing. Having not hired a developer for 6 years and just letting it grow organically is astounding. His last public blog post has some details (


Now that is a reasonable statement. We’ve all read stories of VC funding ruining businesses that might have had a chance to survive if left under the control of the founder, and it’s always sad. In all fairness, I would consider becoming a classic VC-funded startup to be as much of an edge case as having a $575mm exit, but either way, it’s fantastic that Markus was able to do it on his own.

That said, even having been familiar with Markus’ blog over the years (and being mind-blown at how much he was earning from Google ads at one point), I still don’t see his success as particularly duplicable. I think shantu hit it right on the head with his Harry Potter reference (can you ever really go wrong with a Harry Potter reference in a geeky crowd? I think not).

I’m not sure why that opinion is worthy of being subjected to personal attacks. I’ve always known this as a place where open discussion is encouraged. Ian, thanks for the call for increased friendliness.