First Round: Oakley Capital and the dating business

Private Equity can be a lonely business. All those late nights poring over deal stats, polishing that 100-day plan. Then there’s sitting solo on a long-haul flight and the solitary hotel stays. All of it takes its toll on the social lives (and, ahem, marriages) of many a manager.

Oakley Capital Private Equity, thank goodness, has come to the rescue with a classic private equity solution, ie, it bought something.

The firm, through a subsidiary of Oakley Capital Private Equity II, THMMS Erwerbs, has acquired Hamburg-based EliteMedianet, which, in turn, is the owner of online dating company ElitePartner. The company is one of the leading online dating agencies in German-speaking Europe, serving lonely hearts in Germany since 2004 and Austria and Switzerland soon after. Boasting a 42 percent success rate, the company has 56,000 members active daily, of which 68 percent have an academic background. Apparently, romance is in the air.

But enough of that. Let’s get serious. (Not in that way.) Let’s talk returns. Online dating is a nice little earner. EliteMedianet generated revenues in the region of €28 million last year, and EBITDA of €2.6 million.

It seems everybody’s doing it. Idinvest, Alven Capital, DN Capital and Raine Ventures have recently invested in Happn, a French dating app.

Oakley is so keen on it, it’s done it twice. It’s acquisition of EliteMedianet follows its investment earlier this year in another matchmaking service PARSHIP based in Hamburg, with a presence in 13 countries.

Oakley describes it as one of Europe’s “original” dating websites. Vintage is everything, as ever.

Oakley managing partner Peter Dubens gave the transaction his blessing.

“We’re excited to have acquired ElitePartner, which is such a strong brand in the online dating market,” he said. “With our recent acquisition of PARSHIP, we look forward to pursuing growth with both of these companies and brands in the future.”

It sounds like a match made in heaven.