At the British HQ of the world’s biggest dating agency, every day is Valentine’s Day.The lift doors ping open to reveal a wall plastered in photographs of happy couples – cliché upon cliché of wedding shots, beach scenes, even a pair strolling through a sunflower field.In his first TV interview, Kremen wore a tie-dyed shirt and sat on a beanbag.“will bring more love to the planet than anything since Jesus Christ,” he pronounced.“In person, it is uncomfortable to ask a lot of questions up front,” he says.Giving your preferences to a faceless machine, on the other hand, is far less awkward.
Freddie wasn’t technical enough to upload a picture, so Bill had no idea what she looked like - which was relatively common in the early days.“Mention Match.com, and see how many say they met their partner on there, or encouraged a relative to go on it, or know someone who has.” When launched in April 1995, there were only 25 million internet users worldwide, compared to 2.92 billion in 2015.Having web access at home – like owning a mobile phone - was considered quite exotic. It promised a clever algorithm, which used character traits and interests to pair users with their perfect partner. At first, online dating occupied a seedy corner of the internet, ranking in people’s minds just above red light services.“It started off as sheer geek territory,” says Gregory. Stigma was high.” Jane Stuart barely told anyone when she set up a profile on the site in 2001.“Back then, there was a sense of 'Oh, you must be really desperate,’” she says.
“It’s amazing to have been a pioneer of something that is now so normal,” she says.