Thursday, October 16, 2014

Netiquette IQ Blog of The Day - How The Internet Has Changed The Bedroom and Boardroom

The Boardroom and the Bedroom
How both dating and finance have been screwed by the Internet.
By Ari Ratner

Your parents dated the way Warren Buffett picks a stock: a close review of the prospectus over dinner, careful analysis of long-term growth potential, detailed real asset evaluation.
Sure, the old economy dating market in which they participated had the occasional speculative frenzy: Woodstock, V-E day, whatever went on at Studio 54. My parents met during spring break. In Florida.
But love and its compounding interests were usually pursued with appropriate due diligence. 
Then came the Internet. The “innovation” that has driven the financial industry over the last two decades has also transformed the dating market, with similar effects on romance as on the economy. The traditional focus on long-term security—marriage and retirement—has been replaced by a relentless pursuit of instant gratification and immediate returns. These days, the Wolf is as much on Tinder as on Wall Street. 
Just look at what online dating has done to the meet market. The speed and frequency of transactions has gone up. Volatility has spiked as relationship investment strategy has changed from building long-term value to quarterly—or nightly—profits. New investors have entered the market with greater ease, although all too often only to be taken advantage of by more sophisticated players. New avenues for fraud have opened up: Manti Te’o meet Bernie Madoff on Ashley Madison. Even inequality has risen. Some investors are rolling in it; others have just lost their shirts.
How did the bedroom end up looking so much like the boardroom?
In successive waves, innovation pioneered in the financial markets has been adopted to dating. Online dating’s initial trading platforms—Match created in 1995, JDate in 1997, etc.—were the relationship equivalent to the online trading sites that first allowed investors to directly manage their own portfolios. Think “Talk to Chuck,” except if he can message you first (hopefully not about the size of his portfolio).
Then came quantitative trading. EHarmony’s “scientific approach” came out in 2000, with later editions augmented by an “algorithm of love.” OkCupid, launched in 2004, has brought us big-data dating. The site captures a “datacylsm” of online behavior to be romanticized—and monetized.
And sure enough, as in finance, quants soon turned to data-driven approaches to skew the market to their advantage. Slate contributor Amy Webb “hacked” OkCupid using an algorithm to eventually find love.
Then came high-frequency trading. Sites like Grindr, launched in 2009, or Tinder, launched in 2012, give a whole new meaning to what Michael Lewis has described as “flash boys” in the financial markets. We now swipe left or right so quickly that we can’t even fully process the transactions—in this case, people—flashing across our screens.
Online daters are also mirroring the move away from vanilla investments to more exotic or niche offerings.
In the old days, you could easily invest only in broad categories of assets: stocks, treasuries, major international markets. Nowadays, everyone can easily pursue his or her own 50 shades of investment strategy. Want to invest in New Zealand wool? Click here. Looking for a furrymate? Try here.
To be clear, I make no judgment against adults consensually engaging with other adults—whether in the marketplace or in their private lives. The transformation accompanying digital dating has been complex. It has brought both new opportunities and new risks.
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