Wings Brings a New Kind of Dating App to Facebook

Today there are several moderately successful dating apps on Facebook, but conceptually they’re not much different from previously efforts on the web. A startup called Triangulate thinks that it can use Facebook’s data to do more.

Although Triangulate’s dating app, Wings, has been around for a few months and has reached 39,080 monthly active users, the company is only officially announcing it today. “We’ve been building a mathematical model of compatibility for a while now,” says Triangulate CEO Sunil Nagaraj.

Wings’ leap forward in dating technology is all about feeding data into those models. A new user visiting for the first time will enter all the usual facts about themselves, like age, interests and sexual orientation, but they’ll also be asked to give Wings permission to access their profile data, as well as from Foursquare, Netflix and Twitter if available.

In the background, Wings takes this data to build the rest of the profile. Part of this process is obvious — on most dating sites, for instance, it’s common for potential couples to compare their favorite movies.

But Wings also begins matching up the data to its own models of successful matchings, which are drawn from real couples. For instance, Nagaraj said, it’s easy to see whether two users rate classic movies highly on Netflix — but if both actually spend their time watching trashy action movies, Wings may use that data instead to predict a good match.

Triangulate’s core technology is actually applicable to more than dating. “The big piece here is that what people do is more valuable than what they say,” says Nagaraj. “We can personalize the user’s world and make recommendations about a wide variety of things.”

For now, though, the company is focusing on Wings, from which it can draw more information to power its models. The name Wings actually refers to the core mechanic for doing so — users are also encouraged to invite in their friends for the purpose of helping make matches, as with the popular concept of a wingman.

There are a few other features to Wings, but the data component is the “secret sauce”. What remains to be seen is whether automatically scraped data can offer a high level of accuracy; the idea of finding out random facts about a user isn’t new, as OKCupid, for example, does the same thing with short multiple-choice questions. Wings’ competition on Facebook is Zoosk, Are You Interested, and a few others.

Triangulate has also drawn a small amount of funding in a $750,000 round led by Trinity Ventures and participated in by Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson.