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Are friend-finding apps the next big thing?

By Rieva Lesonsky

According to a report from JWTIntelligence some entrepreneurs are trying to disrupt the friendship space, just as dating apps have become today’s top matchmakers. The assumption is that consumers who are being targeted for using a friend-finding app are used to the concept of dating apps and building friendships online through chat rooms.

There are a number of players already in the market, but it’s still so new, there’s plenty of room for more entrepreneurs to join the fray.

JWTIntelligence highlighted several of the players. For instance, Patook founder Antoine Daher told GeekWire they surveyed 2,000 people last year and learned only about 33 percent of them found it easy to make friends and “fewer than 20 percent of people found it easy to make new friends within five years of moving to a new city.” JWTIntelligence says “the app also takes a ‘smart’ approach to building friendships, matching users with others based on a weighted selection of traits they’ve ranked as important.”

Another friend-finding app, Hey! Vina, wants to “connect awesome women for fun, for work, for life.” Existing companies such as Tinder (which launched Tinder Social) and Bumble, a dating app where the woman always makes the first move, are also jumping into the market. Bumble’s founder, Whitney Wolfe, a former Tinder exec, told CBS News Bumble’s users have been requesting a find-a-friend type feature.

JWTIntelligence says that while “the idea of platonic swiping has yet to prove an enduring appeal, for now, it seems, the more the merrier.” And it adds, “Moving forward, the interplay between technology and friendship will likely continue to evolve.”