Brandon Wade isn’t your typical relationship guru.
A former physics and electrical engineering student, he struggled to get dates and didn’t have his first kiss until he was 21.
Still, the Las Vegas entrepreneur has built an Internet company helping people find romance and companionship — though he takes a slightly different approach than most mainstream dating sites.
Wade finds wealthy men who are willing to shower money and gifts on attractive younger women. It's a formula fit for Las Vegas, he says.
His company, InfoStream Group, based on Eastern Avenue across from Sunset Park, runs such websites as SeekingArrangement.com, which matches “sugar daddies” with “sugar babies” seeking “mutually beneficial relationships”; SeekingMillionaire.com, which helps “aspiring women” find “successful men” who understand their “need for security” (“No gold diggers allowed!” the site warns); and WhatsYourPrice.com, where “generous men” bid money to date “attractive women” with user names such as BlingBlingDiva and yummyfun (“Simply name your price and go out tonight,” the site declares).
InfoStream also runs MissTravel.com, which lets users find and pay for “a hot travel companion, sexy travel mate or beautiful travel buddy,” and CarrotDating.com, where people “bribe” their way to first dates with shopping sprees and other gifts.
At least two of Wade’s sites have disclaimers saying escorts are not allowed.
“Carrot Dating turns ‘fat chance’ into ‘why not?’” that site says. “From flowers to jewelry, there’s a bribe for everyone’s budget. You can have anyone! All you have to do is dangle the right carrot.”
The average sugar daddy on SeekingArrangement is about 40 years old and earns $250,000 a year, Wade said, while the average sugar baby is 27 years old.
“I think Vegas is a good place to base (my) business. ... People come here, they’re big spenders, and they use their wealth to attract attention,” Wade said.
The 43-year-old Singapore native earned both a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After working as a software engineer, a management consultant and a corporate executive, he launched InfoStream in San Francisco in 2006.
Stung by intense competition for tech talent, he moved the company to Las Vegas in 2009 and now has about 20 local employees. This Valentine's Day, he offers a look at the unique world of companionship in Las Vegas.
What are your impressions of the Las Vegas dating scene?
When I was single here, it was tough to meet people. It’s a very transient environment. People move here to work in hospitality, and they work odd hours. Meeting people in the traditional sense wasn’t really practical as compared to other cities like New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco, but that could also be why a lot of people in Las Vegas are on dating sites.
Your site rates Las Vegas as the No. 6 "Sugar Daddy Capital." Why do you think the city ranks so high?
There are a lot of rich people here, a lot of beautiful women and a lot of people who are attracted to the glitz of Vegas. Also, obviously a lot of businessmen come to Vegas, and on their profiles they like to put Vegas as a place where they meet up with their sugar babies or other people on a casual basis. There is this high-roller mentality. They enjoy spoiling and pampering women, and Vegas is a great place to do that.
Is that more prevalent here because it’s a party town?
I think so. Vegas tends to attract a lot of out-of-town sugar daddies. Successful businesspeople will come here at least once or twice a year from all over the country and the world. And we do see a surge in activity on our website around some of the main events in Vegas, like the Consumer Electronics Show. There’s quite a significant boost in the number of people who log in from Vegas around those events. The number of sugar daddies jumps a bit more than the sugar babies.
What other web-traffic trends have you noticed?
For WhatsYourPrice, we typically see a slight bump in people bidding for first dates around Valentine’s Day. There’s this pressure put on people to find someone and be someone’s valentine. No one wants to be alone or caught being alone.
How much do people usually bid on that site?
The average is about $100, but the highest bid accepted we’ve seen is $3,000. B- and C-list celebrities have used the site, and people bid a lot of money to go out with them.
Why did you move your company to Las Vegas?
We were able to hire really good tech people here, and it’s a lot easier to keep them. I have lost some people to Zappos, so there is some poaching going on, but not at the level I saw in San Francisco.