In her essay about leaving New York Joan Didion tells a man she’ll take him to a party where he might meet some ‘new faces’, and he laughs at her.‘It seemed that the last time he had gone to a party where he had been promised “new faces”, there had been 15 people in the room, and he had already slept with five of the women and owed money to all but two of the men.’ Didion doesn’t say, but I’ve always assumed her friend went to the party anyway.In 1992, he was a 29-year-old computer scientist and one of the many graduates of Stanford Business School running software companies in the Bay Area. In 1992, that couldn’t be done – modems transmitted information too slowly.One afternoon a routine email with a purchase order attached to it arrived in his inbox. At the time, emails from women in his line of work were exceedingly rare. Then there was the scarcity of women with online access.Like many visionary entrepreneurs, Kremen doesn’t have very good management skills.His life has passed through periods of grave disarray.Niche dating sites have proliferated, new technology has made new ways of meeting people possible and new gimmicks hit the market every day, but as I knew from my own experience, the fundamental characteristics of the online dating profile have remained static.
‘Ah, Minnesota,’ he said: ‘Have you ever been to the Zumbro River?Because in its early days the internet was prevalent in worlds that had historically excluded women – the military, finance, mathematics and engineering – women were not online in big numbers.As late as 1996 America Online estimated that of its five million users, 79 per cent were men.In 2011 they sold the company for million to IAC, the corporation that now owns Match.
Like Match, OK Cupid has its users fill out a questionnaire.In more administrative fields, however, a growing number of women had email. He left his job, hired some programmers with his credit card, and created an email-based dating service.