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What this ‘toxic’ billboard says about dating in the Bay Area

The provocative billboard along U.S. 101 North is an advertisement for dating app MillionaireMatch. | Nick Veronin/The Standard

Armand Domalewski was driving back to the city in November from the airport when he saw a peculiar billboard: “Do you make $300K? You deserve the best!”

The provocative billboard along U.S. 101 North is an advertisement for dating app MillionaireMatch. The service has 32,367 users in the San Francisco Bay Area and over 5 million in total, a MillionaireMatch spokesperson told The Standard.

“It’s very San Francisco, unfortunately,” said Domalewski, a 33-year-old tech worker who described the billboard as, “embarrassing, sad, pathetic and cringey.”

“My biggest issue was the attachment between high-quality and high-income singles, and that it’s the first thing people see when they come to the city,” said Sierra Spencer, another San Franciscan who spotted the sign after dropping her roommate off at the airport. “I hope that that’s not representative of San Francisco. [It’s] toxic.”

“Their tagline should be, ‘Why be a couple when you could be a corporation?’” joked Jean Teodoro, a single San Franciscan.

In 2019, the average salaries for top software engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area ranged between $155,000 to $165,000. The money is good for some in the city, but how’s the love life, San Francisco?  

San Franciscans between the ages of 18 and 34 are twice as likely to be dating someone right now than the average San Franciscan. While most people are likely skipping MillionaireMatch for Bumble, Hinge and Grindr, the billboard is a literal sign post: We’re on a collective struggle bus when it comes to love and dating in the Bay Area.

Hot or Rich? Choose One

The homepage for the MillionaireMatch online site boasts it is "the largest millionaire dating service for developed countries since 2001."

If you want to sign up for MillionaireMatch, you have to identify yourself in one of two ways: “I am a successful single making over $300K/year” or “I am an attractive single.” Yeah, you heard that right.

“I’ve known plenty of folks who think life is like a video game,” Domalewski told The Standard. “If you have a ‘high score’—you did well in school and now have a high-paying job—you should have more success in dating.”

The premise of MillionaireMatch may seem shallow and absurd, but the site insists it’s in the soulmate business. The dating service was contacted for comment.

For Domalewski, the type of person MillionaireMatch is marketing to is a real person who is actually searching for love: They’re a mid-level software engineer who did really well in school, gets paid well, but lacks emotional and social intelligence, and they haven’t had much success in dating. He said it’s hard to be mad at a person who’s having that experience.

“They’ve internalized that the way to be successful or happy in life is to get a good job, and that love and marriage are just part of that success track,” he added. “Housing is expensive, living here is expensive, so of course dating here is expensive, too.”