The online dating sites Match.com and OkCupid can now add another happy couple to their list of successful matches: themselves.

IAC's Match.com, which owns a family of dating sites including Chemistry.com, People Media, and SinglesNet, purchased OkCupid for $50 million on Wednesday. Unlike the subscriber-only Match.com, OkCupid offers its services for free, supports itself through advertising, and generally attracts younger singles who connect with the site's hip, Digital Age ethos.

What does the corporate marriage mean for the future of online dating?

  • Two Sites Won't Change Much, reports Adrianne Jeffries at The New York Observer. OkCupid CEO Sam Yagan tells Jeffries that his site will remain free and that its research arm--OkTrends--will continue analyzing user statistics to surface online dating trends, though it won't include data from Match.com or its affiliated sites (you may remember OkTrends teaching us that men are more likely to message ugly women).
  • OkCupid Community Could Flee, predicts The Atlantic's Nicholas Jackson. He suspects IAC wants to convert as many OkCupid users as possible to Match.com subscribers but thinks it's a bad idea. OkCupid already offers its loyal community robust features for free, he explains: "In addition to the OkTrends blog, visitors to the OkCupid site are given their own personal blogs, the ability to instant message, photo albums, and access to quizzes and games." If IAC removes those features, he says, "users will flock elsewhere."
  • This Is a Loss for Daters, claims The Stir's Maressa Brown:

If you've ever gone fishing for a mate online, you know that Match.com is like the McDonald's of online dating sites. It's completely generic. EVERYONE is on it ... Because of the crowds, good-looking, normal gals must contend with an onslaught of men, 90 percent of whom are total freaks/nerds/players/weirdos.

OkCupid ... Yeah, in my past experience--it's pretty much the same, except free (and therefore even more skeezy) ... And now that [Match.com and OkCupid are] converging on one another in a hot, sticky mess of online dating site co-promotion ... well, it's just going to be even more chaotic for serious daters.

  • No, It's a Win, counters Stephanie Castillo at Your Tango: "Between Match.com's expertise and OKCupid's fresh take on online dating, the two companies are bound to create a more successful online dating experience."
  • Online Dating Is Declining, argues David Evans at Online Dating Insider: "Its time to officially declare online dating a mature industry and with that the realization that 2002-2005 were the glory years. The dating industry is about acquiring traffic as cheaply as possible and wringing as much revenue out of members while moving chess pieces around a board and maximizing shareholder value."