It’s a social network for people you haven’t met yet, but it’s not a dating site

It’s a social network for people you haven’t met yet, but it’s not a dating site

Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.

But this network has, I’m told, 130 million users around the world, with about 6 million in the U.S. How did that happen? And will it play in Peoria? Here’s the story, in two parts.

Part 1: The high-minded theory Badoo is a social site, but it’s no Facebook. Where Facebook is the network of your friends (even if you define “friend” loosely), Badoo is a network for friends yet to be.

Use Badoo to find nearby people open to talking or meeting

But neither is Badoo, strictly speaking, a dating service, according to CEO Andrey Andreev and CMO Jessica Powell. Rather, Badoo is designed to connect you to people nearby whom you don’t yet know, for whatever purpose you like. As Powell says, it’s like the offline world. “There’s always the potential for flirting or dating, but along the way you might just make friends, or meet people you want to introduce your friends to.”

Like Facebook, Badoo’s design encourages people to keep coming back. “With a dating site, if you go there and are successful, you don’t come back. In Badoo, you come back,” says Powell.

Badoo is also a location-based social service. It’s designed to help you find people nearby who share your interests, and there’s a strong smartphone app. It’s pitched as great if you’re looking to hang with someone in a new city you’re visiting, or connect with people at an event.

Powell told me that about 50 percent of the conversations on the service lead to real-world meetups militarycupid conectarse, and that under 20 percent of the site’s usage is around dating. These are both very interesting numbers for an online connection service.

I would say my conversation with Andreev and Powell went well. I was envisioning using Badoo to connect with cool people at crowded events like the Maker Faire, or maybe at industry conferences. …