If you’ve ever tried an online dating site like Match.com, there’s a good chance that you found your first few interactions with other members to be unnatural — from the awkward initial messages to the fact that you probably don’t have a single friend in common, the whole process can feel a bit forced. Thread.com, a startup formerly known as Frintro that’s launching today out of fbFund REV’s incubator program, is looking to offer the ideal middle ground between these online dating sites and the social connections that helped spark relationships in the days before the web.
In conjunction with today’s launch, Thread.com is also announcing that it has closed a $1.2 million funding round led by some of Silicon Valley’s most well known investors. Included in the round are First Round Capital, Sequoia Capital, Founders Fund, fbFund, and a number of independent investors, including Ron Conway, David Sacks, Auren Hoffman, Pedro Miguel Martins, Reid Hoffman, Joe Greenstein, Saran Chari, and Shervin Pishevar.
So how exactly is Thread.com different from these other dating sites? The startup is heavily reliant on Facebook Connect, which is no surprise given the company’s participation in this summer’s round in fbFund. Here’s how it works: you log in to Thread.com using your Facebook credentials, at which point the site asks some basic additional information like your age and location. From there, it asks you what gender(s) you’re interested in searching through for possible matches, and also if you’d like to only see people who are single (home-wreckers can also choose to only browse users who are in relationships).
Thread.com then uses Facebook Connect to look up some basic information about your friends and friends of your friends. It shows each match in a grid, much like what you’d see on most other dating sites. Depending on your connection to each match you’ll be able to see things like their current relationship status, their location, interests, profile photos, and even photo albums (though depending on each user’s privacy settings you may not be able to see all of these).
Once you’ve found a match, it’s up to you how you want to initiate contact. Thread.com makes it easy to simply message a member through Facebook, but CEO Brian Phillips says that the best way to spark a relationship — and this is what makes Thread.com unique — is that you can ask your friends to introduce you. Because everyone you see on Thread.com is connected to you through a friend, you have the option of asking this shared connection to set you up, or to coordinate a party or event where both you and your potential match are invited.
It’s a great idea, and the site’s extremely solid roster of investors seems like a testament that. Also worth noting: Phillips has actually been dating a woman he recently met through Thread.com.