This Guy Sold His Startup for $575 Million in Cash -- And Gets to Keep Every Penny
On Tuesday, the dating website Plenty of Fish got acquired by Match Group, an IAC/InterActive subsidiary that recently announced plans to go public later this year. Plenty of Fish sold to Match Group for $575 million in cash.
Markus Frind, 36, is the founder and CEO of the Vancouver-based Plenty of Fish.
Frind told Business Insider he started Plenty of Fish in 2003 "as a way to improve my résumé."
"At the time there was a new programming language called ASP.NET, and I don't like reading books, so I just went and created the site in two weeks, and then people started signing up, much to my surprise," he said. "And it blew up from there. It wasn't like I had a plan to create a dating site. It was just a side project I created that got really big."
Frind, who was a developer before he founded Plenty of Fish, built the site without any venture-capital funding. He has retained complete ownership of the company, which has 75 employees.
"By the time I found out what VCs were, I was already making millions in profit, and I didn't see the need to raise money because I wouldn't know what to do with it," he told Business Insider. "It was a profitable company, and there was no need to raise money."
Plenty of Fish's deal with Match will close by the end of the year. Frind says Plenty of Fish, which has 90 million registered users and 3.6 million active daily users, was "immediately profitable."
In 2008, Frind told The New York Times that his website's net profits were about $10 million a year and that he worked only about 10 hours a week. Now, he says, he works a bit more than that. "It's funny, once you start adding people to the company, the amount of time you have to work goes up," he told Business Insider. "We have a staff of 75 now. I've been working normal hours the past few months."
Match Group CEO Sam Yagan said in a statement that he had been interested in Plenty of Fish for more than 10 years. "As more people than ever use more dating apps than ever with more frequency than ever, Plenty of Fish's addition both brings new members into our family of products and deepens the lifetime relationship we have with our users across our portfolio," he said.
So how does it feel to finally have the deal close, knowing you're walking away with millions of dollars for your project? "I don't know," Frind told Business Insider. "It's still pretty fresh here. It's just very surreal."