The Billionaire and the Matchmake(4)

By: Lacy Andersen


“Five bucks, pay up Smithy,” the competitor demanded with a grin.

“Next time, I’m taking you down,” Smithy said with an overly dramatic grimace, pulling out his wallet and handing over the green.

His competitor grinned and stood up from the wheel chair, pocketing the money as he walked through the door past Michael. Smithy spun himself around and stopped when he realized he wasn’t alone.

“Dude, any chance we can convince your dad to put in a full court somewhere in the building?” He grinned, his face flushing red.

“Let me think about that.” Michael rubbed a hand over his shortly trimmed beard and frowned. “Yeah, I’m not sure that’ll fly with the old man. He had the TVs removed from the break rooms last month. Said that a distracted employee was an inefficient employee.”

Smithy groaned in defeat and rolled toward Michael, holding out his hand. “Good to see you anyway, man. Are you here about the beta tests?”

Michael shook his hand and nodded. “I saw your report this morning. Got a minute to talk about them?”

“I’ve always got a minute to talk to you, boss.”

Smithy rolled down the hall and led him into a large office with peeling yellow wall paper and a stained carpet. He pulled up behind a chipped mahogany desk while Michael sat in the cracked leather seat across from him.

The floor had been scheduled for renovation, but Smithy’s new project had put that on hold. It had only been by the skin of his teeth that Michael had convinced his father to invest in his Yale buddy’s start-up project. Housing the team in the dilapidated section of the enormous building had been one way of insuring their work would stay under his father’s radar. For how long, he didn’t know. But the team was already making great strides. This morning’s report was just a bump in the road.

“Reports say that our testing groups love the user-friendly interface of the new app,” Smithy said, pulling a piece of paper from the stacks of disheveled folders on his desk. “The algorithms need a bit of tweaking, but we’re making serious improvements.”

“It’s the fifth point that concerned me,” Michael said, tapping his finger on the back of the paper. “The testers don’t believe we’ve got anything unique to offer. There’s nothing that separates us from the dating apps they’ve seen before. That’s not a promising sign.”

“My algorithm outperforms any of that junk science.” Smithy rubbed a hand over his curls and scowled. Frustration sparked in his green eyes. “They just don’t know it, yet.”

Michael leaned back in his chair and pursed his lips in thought. He’d had unwavering faith in Kevin Smith since their sophomore year of college at the Ivy League school. Even then, Kevin had been harboring plans for his big business idea. It had taken over ten years, a stint in the military, and a painful road of recovery to get to this point in his career. But Michael was determined to see his buddy’s plans come to fruition.

“I mulled over the comments this morning,” Michael said, leaning forward in his chair. His brown eyes lit with excitement. “For some reason, I couldn’t get out of my head the matchmaking company that my parents used back in the late seventies. It was called Sevenson Selective.”

Smithy whistled low and made a face. “I didn’t know your parents used a matchmaking service. That’s crazy.”

“Surprisingly, when you’ve got money, it can be hard to find the right partner.”

Michael knew that issue all too well. His last string of girlfriends had seemed more concerned with how he could get them a ticket to Coachella than in a life-long commitment. It was a frustratingly common occurrence that almost made him yearn for the simple days of arranged marriages.

Almost.

“Anyway,” he continued with a flourish of his hand, “the amazing thing is they still exist. It’s no longer a flourishing business, but it’s hanging on. I filled out an application and dropped it off over lunch. I wanted to see how their practices differ from yours.”

Smithy raised an eyebrow and gave him a skeptical smile. Blood rushed to his round cheeks. “What exactly are we going to learn from a failing business, Michael?”

“They’ve got a system that goes back generations. It’s tried and true. They used to be the place for the elite and wealthy to find their partners: they were so renowned. Their only mistake was in neglecting to move into the twenty-first century.” He shook his head regretfully. “We can learn from them. Harvest what made them unique back in the day and utilize it to put your app on the map.”