Web site wants to play matchmaker

Move over, 50 Most. GoodCrush Yale has a new list of campus hotties.

GoodCrush, a New York-based social networking Web site that allows students to contact on-campus crushes anonymously via e-mail, struck a deal with the Yale College Council last semester and agreed to sponsor the council’s charity speed dating event Wednesday. In exchange, the council has sent out two campus-wide e-mails encouraging students to use GoodCrush Yale, the section of the Web site designed for Yalies.

The current Web site has more than 1,000 Yalies registered, and as of Tuesday night, 11,135 Yale “crushes” had been sent out through the site. GoodCrush’s founder, Josh Weinstein, said the company is currently marketing with select universities to reach a wider population, while not spending too much money on marketing products such as posters and T-shirts.

He said GoodCrush is still in the early stages of development and that he is not worried about generating revenue at this time. Not a fan of Web advertising, Weinstein added that he is looking into other ways to make money from the Web site, such as offering virtual gifts and creating premium services for the Web site.

YCC President Jon Wu ’11, who on Wednesday night was listed on GoodCrush Yale as the most “crushed” student, said he would not disclose how much the company paid the YCC to sponsor the speed dating event, but he said all of the funding will be used for the event. Wu added that GoodCrush approached the YCC with the idea to market the Web site in conjunction with Valentine’s Day.

Weinstein said GoodCrush typically does not fund student events at other universities. But he added that his company wanted to get involved with the “legendary” Sex Week at Yale, which he said he heard about while attending Princeton University.

Weinstein started a predecessor for GoodCrush, CrushFinder, in 2007, while serving as the vice president of Princeton University’s Undergraduate Student Government. He said he started the Web venture as a student government initiative. CrushFinder officially became GoodCrush in December 2008, and Weinstein launched the site publicly in February 2009. Last December, Weinstein added a new feature, called “Missed Connections,” for students who want to meet others they have encountered but with whom they have lost contact. He said he has partnered with about 20 other colleges and universities.

“As of now, we don’t generate revenue,” he said. “If we can determine there is opportunities for a really valuable service, then we can consider opportunities for impending ways to make money.”

The Web site currently is funded by money raised by FirstMark Capital, a New York-based venture capital firm whose investor he met last summer. Weinstein said he does not know whether GoodCrush will last in the long run, but he added that there has been strong student interest in the site since its launch.

Two Yalies interviewed said they found the Web site to be more funny than useful for finding dates.

In an e-mail Wednesday, GoodCrush user Michael Knowles ’12, who had received at least four crushes Wednesday night, compared the Web site to FML, where users post misfortunate life situations, and the once-popular college Web site JuicyCampus, in which users posted anonymous gossip about their peers.

Before it went out of business in February 2009, JuicyCampus was criticized by state attorneys general, such as state attorney general Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, for the site’s defamatory comments. Weinstein said he has learned from the failure of JuicyCampus.

“From JuicyCampus, we learned that moderation is important,” he said, “that we need to protect the individual’s reputation.”

Posts created both by registered GoodCrush users and those who are not logged onto the Web site are first checked by a moderator before they are posted, he said.

This week, YCC launched YaleStation Dating, a service similar to GoodCrush that matches couples based on a compatibility test.

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