Meta is shutting down a video speed-dating service that it tested out over a good part of last year, the company informed users of the service via a recent email. Last April, the company formerly known as Facebook confirmed that it was testing a new dating service called sparked, which was developed by its in-house incubator, NPE Team, Unlike modern dating apps, where users swipe on profiles to create a match, Sparked’s premise was to bring the seriousness associated with in-person speed dating to an online service.
With Sparked, daters will cycle with other locals in their area through a series of short “video dates” during a pre-planned event. The team tested the service in select markets, including Chicago, and hosted several “global” date nights throughout the year, as well as events dedicated to LGBTQ users or other demographics, such as certain age groups.
Initially, Sparked users will chat in short video dates of four minutes, which they can follow up with a 10-minute date, if all goes well. They can also choose to share their contact information with Match, such as their phone number, email or Instagram handle.
At the time, Meta described Sparked as “a small, external beta” trial designed to generate insight into how video dating might work.
However, last summer Sparked began experimenting with a different kind of online dating that didn’t involve video chat: audio dating. The service hosted several “audio only” date nights where users could chat with each other, but could not appear on video. Not coincidentally, Facebook’s big dating service, Facebook Dating, followed soon after. introduced a new feature Called Audio Dates, which likewise gives users a way to start an audio chat with their match.
Now Sparked is closing shop. The company informed its testers via email that the service will be officially shut down on January 20, 2022.
“We began building Sparked in late 2020 to help people find love through an experience rooted in kindness. Since then, thanks to your regular input and feedback, we have where we improved, learned a ton, and built connections between people,” the email read. “Like many good ideas, some fade away and others, like Sparked, must come to an end.”
The email seems to suggest that Sparked is not among the “many good ideas” that “take off.” In other words, it didn’t gain traction.
Reached for comment, a Meta spokesperson had nothing more to add beyond what’s already been shared in an email to Sparked users.
The company is giving users a way to download their information from Sparked’s website before the eventual shutdown. However, after January 20th, all user accounts will be deleted.
It should come as no surprise that Meta is discontinuing this experiment. Some of the NPE team’s projects have found a permanent home in Meta as standalone apps, despite a wide smattering of tests, including calling apps, meme-makers, and even popular social apps like TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook. Variations on Clubhouse are included. Currently, only three NPE projects are still live on the US App Store: BARS, a TikTok-like app that focuses on rap music; Collab, a collaborative music making app; and Tune in, an app for couples.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s sweeping efforts at dating haven’t proved so successful compared to existing ones. Meta’s analysis of your Facebook dating ads It was indicated by The Nerdshala last spring that Facebook was struggling to convert millions of its users in various cities to Facebook Dating users — even though the feature is only available directly in the Facebook app.
Facebook does not publicly share statistics for its Facebook Dating product, and it is not possible to determine its traction by other means, as it is a built-in feature within Facebook.
Aside from being unlikely to meet the bar for continued investment, Sparked also doesn’t quite fit the NPE team’s new vision as an organization focused more on emerging markets, not just new consumer social experiences.
The group established offices in Lagos, Nigeria, and has a further staff in Asia. It also plans to look outside for new ideas, including making seed-stage investments in small, entrepreneurial teams, it said recently.