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Hot or Not is an image rating site where user submitted photos are scored based on level of attractiveness. The site also offers a matchmaking dating service for subscribed users to message one another and send virtual gifts.
On October 29th, 2000, the site HotorNot.com was launched by California-based engineers James Hong and Jim Young. According to a 2005 New York Times article, Hong and Young decided to make the site after a friend of their’s remarked that an attractive girl was a “10.” According to a 2007 TechCrunch article, the site had accumulated over 40,000 visits by the end of its first day. A few months later, the site was scored as a Neilsen top 25 advertising domain. In January of 2001, the site added a dating component for paid subscribers to interact with other members. In April of 2007, Hot or Not disabled the paid subscription requirement for connecting with other members, which resulted in a 60% traffic increase. On September 18th, TechCrunch reported that Hot or Not had decided to abandon the free model after being inundated with spammer accounts. On February 8th, 2008, the site was sold to Avid Life Media, owners of the dating service Ashley Madison, for $20 million. On April 2nd, 2012, TechCrunch reported that Hot or Not had been bought by the United Kingdom-based dating site Badoo.
On July 6th, 1999, the first rating site RateMyFace.com was launched by web entrepreneur Michael Hussey. On January 20th, 2000, a similar site AmIHot.com was launched by MIT freshman Daniel Roy. Each used an interface that allowed users to upload and rate photographs.
In early 2003, Livejournal user bigexpy launched the rating community “NonUglies”, where other Livejournal users submitted photos of themselves to be voted upon before being accepted into the community. The site inspired a number of other rating communities before being deleted for violating Livejournal’s terms of service. On October 28th, 2003, Mark Zuckerberg launched “Facesmash”, the predecessor to the social networking site Facebook, which featured a Hot or Not-style rating system for Harvard students. The site Facemasher.com was created in 2010 as a recreation of Zuckerberg’s site.
In 2004, the Korean slang term “ulzzang” became associated with individuals who gained popularity online by entering photos of themselves in rating contests. In a 2007 Time Magazine interview, cofounder Jawed Karim of the video-sharing website YouTube revealed that the site was initially supposed to be a video version of Hot or Not. Karim was inspired by Hot or Not’s user upload features, which was a new concept online at the time. The site became a more general video hosting service, with the first video uploaded on April 23rd, 2005.
Initially, the site limited users to uploading and rating photographs. Eventually, the “Meet Me at Hot or Not” matchmaking component was added to the site, which allowed subscribed users to create dating profiles and connect with other members.
According to Wikipedia, HotOrNot reached nearly two million page views per day within a week of launching. As of April 25th, 2012, the site holds an Alexa traffic rank of 15,092 and Compete score of 24,293.
On May 14th, 2006, Flickr user Pierre Tourigny uploaded composite images he created using groups of women from different score brackets on HotorNot.com. Tourigny blended the photographs together for each bracket using the morphing software SquirtzMorph.
On January 22nd, 2009, Hot or Not released a free iPhone app on the iTunes digital media store. The app allowed registered users to rate photos, narrow results by geographic location and send other users virtual gifts.
Avid Life Media – Avid Life Media Social Entertainment Marketing Branding
New York Times – He Made His Money on a Whim, but Now He’s Got a Serious Idea