This story is over 5 years old.


Badoo, Explained

A peek inside Europe's favorite social-sexual network.
Daniel Stuckey
Κείμενο Daniel Stuckey

It has been about a month since I signed up for Badoo. The dating social network that began five years ago in Europe is pitching itself to New Yorkers as the next great place to meet people, using bright ads across the city featuring actual users saying mostly scripted things like “I want to break your heart,” or “I want to blow your mind. I’m an enigma, wrapped in a puzzle, wrapped in bacon.”

The deluge of real life Badoo spam on subway cars and giant billboards doesn’t just offer some indication of the company’s desperation: it hints of what happens on the Internet version too. Behind its clean-cut image, the site’s true purpose is a little less innocent: arranging hook-ups with the people near you. It’s a formula that’s helped make it the second most popular social network after Facebook in France, Belgium, Austria and Italy. According to both Alexa and comScore, it is now one of the world’s top five social networking sites, and boasts more than 152 million users.

The business model – Badoo boasts “continued profitability” and an annual run rate of $150 million – rests not on commercial ads but on personal ones: it’s been a pioneer in the pay-to-play model of social networking (i.e., you pay extra to get promoted in other people’s feeds, just like in real life), and now claims to have about 1 million paying users every month. Still, Badoo has managed to score the lowest in a survey of 45 social networking sites for its privacy settings. And its Grindr-for-straight-people functionality has led to some serious concerns about stalkers and worse.

Would any of this deter me from pressing all of the I accepts? Nope.

Within the first hour of becoming a new member, my spam box received an average of six new marketing e-mails per hour. One of the subject lines I’ve become more familiar with is “Welcome back to” I get this email almost every time I log back into the site.

Read the rest over at Motherboard.