By Ian Sherr
David Goss was at a Southern California bar on election night 2016, scribbling down ideas to rename TrumpSingles.com, his nascent dating site.
Since Donald Trump was about to lose the presidential election, Goss decided his site needed a new figurehead. Or at least a new name.
He considered Wealthy Person Dating, but that didn’t really roll off the tongue.
By day’s end, though, he received a news alert announcing that Trump had unexpectedly won the election. After that, people started flooding TrumpSingles.com.
Turns out it was the right name after all.
The week before Inauguration Day in January, Goss counted 18,000 active people on his site, more than twice how many were using it on election night. When Trump stood on the Capitol steps in Washington, DC and took the oath of office, TrumpSingles shot to 26,000 people.
Now, the site is pulling in enough cash — either by charging monthly fees for full use of the site or for individual messages — to cover his costs and for him to reinvest in the business. He even has a business partner.
“We didn’t expect to make it through November,” said Goss, 35, who used to help coordinate production for reality TV shows like “The Bachelor,” “Big Brother” and “Life Below Zero.”
Until now, the most harrowing challenge Goss faced was riding a snowmobile across a frozen ocean during a blizzard in Alaska. Now, he’s building a site named after one of the most unpopular presidents in US history. And it’s working.
Goss, who’s married and lives in the Santa Clarita Valley of California, isn’t the only entrepreneur to stumble into the world of online dating. Over the past few decades, sites devoted to matching people interested in all manner of topics have popped up. If you’re a sea captain looking for a first mate, as it were, there’s a site for you. Same with people who admire vampires, and video game players looking for a plus-one.
In some ways, they’re all offering an alternative to services like Tinder, Match.com, OKCupid and eHarmony, which sell themselves by promising large pools of people to choose from or by offering a sophisticated matching algorithm that trawls through listings before finding potential partners. But niche dating sites focused on religious affiliations — like JDate and ChristianMingle — are popular too. So, is it any surprise there’s one for Trump fans?
That doesn’t mean using sites like this is a good idea, said Nicole Ellison, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. “One of the potential pitfalls of online dating sites are that they encourage us to be more selective in not necessarily productive ways,” she said.
Often people end up choosing or dismissing people who have characteristics that don’t really matter in the end. “Technology can be enabling,” Ellison says, “but it can also encourage bad behavior.”