February 19, 2012
There is nothing particularly subtle about the sales patter. “We make mutually beneficial relationships,” goes one pitch. “We are where the attractive meet the affluent,” claims another. A third bills itself: “An upscale community of beautiful women seeking wealthy men.”
The service being brokered is as old as the institution of arranged marriage. But the medium it’s being offered through isn’t. The pitches are aimed at wealthy male “sugar daddies” who, in the jargon of lonely hearts ads, WLTM very much younger women.
In America’s booming online dating market, few sectors are hotter than so-called “sugar daddy” sites, which help rich men to make “arrangements” with attractive and financially needy younger women. Between them, these specialist sites now account for 10 per cent of the entire industry. That’s no small beans, given that in the US the online dating business now generates profits estimated at $700m ($442m) per year and, according to the polling firm GlobeSpan, has helped just over one in five Americans to find their life partner.
The “sugar daddy” trend began in 2006, when the entrepreneur Brandon Lee founded a website called SeekingArrangement. Though it now boasts dozens of copycats, he claims to have a attracted a million members worldwide. The older, male subscribers pay a fee of $50 per month; young women can join for free.