In addition to ads, one of the first ways that the Hot or Not founders monetized the website was with “Meet Me on Hot or Not” – essentially making Hot or Not a dating site.
In order to connect with someone through Hot or Not, you had to pay a fee. (They actually tried making this free once, but spam went through the roof.) They also added the ability to buy and send virtual flowers.
Hot or Not Founder Disagreements
Recalling the many emotional highs and lows of running Hot or Not, James Hong has described entrepreneurship as “volunteering to be bipolar.”
In 2007, a hookup websites Saskatoon tipster told journalists that James and Jim could no longer agree on what direction to take the company. Rumors had it that James wanted to turn Hot or Not into a full-blown social network, but Jim wanted to keep the scope of the website as-is.
By 2017, the website was generating something like $5-6 million a year, with $2 million in profit. That came from 5 million monthly unique visitors and 200 million page views.
James has said that Hot or Not worked “a bit like a laundromat in that they let the site run and then collected quarters from the machine.” The team only spent about 10 hours per week working on the site for many years. And even then, they only worked on it from home.
How Hot or Not Became the “Hot or Not The Game” Tinder Clone and Dating App It Is Today
In 2008, James and Jim decided to let the company go and sold it off for $20 million. Of the sale, James was quoted as saying, “We’ve been working on HotOrNot for seven years now. It’s time to break up with this girlfriend.”
The buyer, Avid Life Media, owned Ashley Madison. They created a spinoff company, Hot or Not Limited, from which to run Hot or Not.
In , an investor bought Hot or Not for an undisclosed amount in order to relaunch it as something of a Tinder clone.
The investors proposed one major difference between Tinder and the relaunched Hot or Not mobile app. That was, comparatively, the Hot or Not dating app was meant to be more of a game. You could “play” it even if you weren’t looking to date anyone.
Sadly, this version of Hot or Not never became as popular as the Hot or Not website in its heyday.
Hot or Not Creators: Where Are They Now?
After selling Hot or Not, James Hong went on to become a husband, dad, and angel investor. He also purports to stay in his pajamas and watch a lot of MTV.
In 2014 and at age 41, James launched an iPhone app called Cakey as a way for parents to create and find playlists of kid-safe videos. He actually coded the app himself. It was his first return to programming after 15 years.
Jim Young is also es are still friends. The two are not as close, however, since Jim moved to Philadelphia. James remains in San Francisco.
Hot or Not Successors
Hot or Not was technically not even the first – let alone the last – rating site. RateMyFace was actually registered a year previous to Hot or Not. AmIHot was registered at about the same time. It just so happens that Hot or Not became the most popular.
According to a 2006 edition of Time magazine, the founders of YouTube said that their original intention was to build a version of Hot or Not with video.