At our upcoming conference we're talking about the future of dating tech. Will it look like this? By Amy-Willard Cross (Editor, Vitamin W)
Alexandra Chong has a little black book of men—well, it's got about a half a million names.
Chong’s app Lulu lets women share info on men they know. After all, you can rate restaurants on Yelp, co-workers on LinkedIn, so why not guys?
It’s not necessarily about trash talking bad dates, getting revenge on an ex, or objectifying beefcake, 48% of reviews are actually friends reviewing other friends who other women might enjoy. Passing the buck as it were. Chong and co-founder Allyson Schwartz think of it as collective wisdom. Women use a menu of hashtags to describe men. The most popular is the endearing #willlactsilly. Note that #smellyBO and #hairyback are not options.
Men get a simple rating from 1 to 10—cue Bolero here. But there are options to talk about hookups and kisses, etc. There are multiple choice quizzes in the categories of manners, ambition, sense of humor, commitment, and appearance.
Lulu is not a smartphone yenta, Chong said, "girls use Lulu as a dating compass. They check out guys they know and get smart about their crushes and potential dates." Chong says it’s perfectly normal for women to discuss guys.
But the idea makes many people cringe. Slate called it creepy. The founder of Boing Boing predicts Apple will pull it on the shelf soon. He interviewed his own daughter who felt the app will cause a lot of "drama with the boys" at her school. Note that men can opt out of the app.
It might serve as a kind of fact-checking since 54% of online daters say that people have misrepresented themselves in their dating profile according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
Compasses are suddenly very popular. The New York/London-based startup is gaining ground fast. So far, it’s being tested at colleges in the United States, and has reached 40% of women at the campuses. Note that’s the same strategy that Facebook used. Ultimately, Lulu’s vision is to be a private network where women can make decisions—relationships is colonized first, health and beauty may be next.
In an interview with the LA Times, Chong said, "It’s time to build products for women, by women." She got the idea during a long brunch discussion with her girlfriends--that turned to men and gynecological issues. Being girls only is key, says Chong, as "it allows women to share and express their opinions – openly and honestly. Adding even one guy to the mix changes the conversation and makes women less willing to share on sensitive subjects like relationships." Some of guys download the app, but they can’t see the ratings because Facebook knows your gender. There is also lulu dude.
Here’s some ways Lulu describes men.
#My friends are jealous #Epicsmile#Strong hands#Always stays #Does his own laundry#One-woman man#Six pack." #No chemistry #Almost too perfect #He loves me not#Doesn't know I exist."#TrustFundBaby #Sexual Panther#Big Feet #MamasBoy
This post originally appeared on Vitamin W. About the blogger: Amy-Willard Cross (@VitaminWomen) is the editor of Vitamin W, a platform for news, business and philanthropy. A former editor at national magazines, she authored books, written countless articles, features, op-eds and book reviews. She wants her daughter to learn how to code as the pay gap is only 6% for women programmers.