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Badoo is a dating-focused social networking service, founded in 2006 and headquarters in Soho, London. The site operates in 180 countries and is most popular in Latin America, Spain, Italy and France. Badoo ranks as the 281st most popular website in the world, according to Alexa Internet as of April 2014. The site operates on a freemium model. To gain extra features, a user can pay a fee or allow Badoo to email all his/her friends.
Badoo was founded by the Russian entrepreneur Andrey Andreev and launched in London in November 2006. In 2007 it raised $30 million in funding.
In January 2008, the Russian investor Finam Capital paid $30 million for a 10% stake in Badoo for expansion in Russia. As of 2009, Finam now has 20% ownership of Badoo. In September 2009, Blendr, “powered by” Badoo, appeared in the iTunes app store.
In April 2011 Badoo was threatened by Facebook with an audit and potential removal if it didn’t make its Facebook app less viral.According to Insidefacebook.com, during the week of January 11, Badoo was ranked 17th in growing Facebook apps. The official Badoo USA launch was on March 23, 2012, with Nick Cannon introducing the service in the United States. In April 2012, the company entered into a marketing agreement with the site Hot or Not to display its members in the companies service.
Badoo is a freemium service, where the basic service is free for everyone but users have an option to pay for premium features. As soon as members sign up they can chat, upload photos and videos. Users can see and contact people who live in their area using the “People Nearby” feature or in a different city or part of the world using the “Search” feature. Another free feature is the “Encounters” game where users click yes or no on other users’ photos and if there is a match the two users are notified. For a fee, users can use the “Rise Up” feature which allows users to pay to give their profile more visibility on the site for a limited time. Badoo’s communications director Lucy George said that as of late 2007 20% of Badoo’s 22 million users were paying for heightened visibility at least once a month. However, according to The Economist, by 2011 only 5% of members were paying for the premium services. It has ranked among the most popular dating websites.
There are several premium services that users can pay to use including the “rise up” feature to promote oneself higher in the search results and so attract greater attention. Users can also pay to their your profile photo more widely visible across the site. Users can also buy “Super Powers” to see more search results, who wants to meet them, and see which of their messages have been read.
There’s also the “Secret comments” feature described as “anonymous, girls only” that allows women to leave comments on men they’ve talked to.
According to CNET, the website is intended to introduce users to people nearby that share similar interests.
In a peer-reviewed study by Cambridge University in 2009, it was given the lowest score for privacy among the 45 social networking sites examined.
Badoo offers extra functionality to users who are willing to give away their contacts’ information. Badoo aims to “get your friends hooked too”. The website emails each of them, “promising that a message from you awaits them at the other end”. However, in truth, the “message” never existed at all.
Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported that numerous Badoo profiles were created without people’s consent, and that people have reported Badoo’s actions to the police.
According to Google’s transparency report on the requests for search removals stemming from the “right to be forgotten” ruling, Badoo had the fourth-highest number of URLs removed from Google Search.
A CNET review by Rafe Needleman described Badoo’s first impression as “creepy”. He said that though the site was advertised as a way to meet local friends with shared interests, it was more like a photo-based dating site. He also said the way it matches users was “obscure”.