- The investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz reportedly includes women he met from Seeking Arrangement.
- The platform, a dating app that connects “sugar babies” and “sugar daddies,” has 10 million users.
- Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex or using websites like Seeking Arrangement.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Seeking Arrangement, a website designed to connect so-called sugar babies and sugar daddies, is making headlines for its reported role in the investigation into allegations that Rep. Matt Gaetz paid women for sex and may have broken sex-trafficking laws.
A Justice Department investigation is currently active and looking into whether Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, and associates paid women for sex, according to The New York Times. Gaetz and his associates reportedly met women from Seeking Arrangement, a popular site for women looking to receive gifts and make money by going on dates or developing relationships with wealthy men.
The Times reported that the FBI “mentioned the website in conversation with at least one potential witness.”
Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex or using Seeking Arrangement or similar sites. Seeking Arrangement did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The founder of Seeking Arrangement, Brandon Wade, started the service in 2006. Wade’s website says that he graduated from MIT and earned an MBA from the Sloan School of Business after moving to the US from Singapore.
He wrote in a CNN op-ed that he felt awkward and alienated as a young man, and that he created Seeking Arrangement to give women “the courage to go after what they really want.”
“Love is a concept invented by poor people,” he wrote. “Love at first sight that sends shivers down your spine is a fairy tale, and it doesn’t last forever. Such infatuation must be transformed into a selfless form of love, empty of possessive expectations, for any relationship to endure.”
The Seeking Arrangement website states that the service has 10 million active members, with 8 million sugar babies and 2 million sugar daddies (or ‘mommas,’ though Wade notes that that is relatively rare).
The service is free to sign up, but there are premium options available with paid subscriptions that offer more customization and search priority on the site. The terms and conditions divide users into “Successful Members” and “Attractive Members.”
Wade told Insider in 2012 that Seeking Arrangement’s annual revenue was “almost $10 million,” and that the parent company also managed other dating sites, including one dedicated to men paying for women’s travel.
Crunchbase data shows that Seeking Arrangement is a private, for-profit company, and lists its headquarters as Las Vegas.
According to Pitchbook, Wade started out consulting at Booz Allen, then began a business venture called SourceGate Systems, Inc. in 2000. “But Wade decided to return the $5 million to its investors after six months battling out with the said business,” according to Pitchbook. After that, he founded Seeking Arrangement and expanded the portfolio of sites to include SeekingMillionare.com and MissTravel.
Sugar babies on the Seeking Arrangement are encouraged to negotiate an “arrangement” with their partner. The platform bills itself as “relationships on your terms.”
Insider reported in 2018 that some sugar babies receive mentorship, career guidance, and investments from their sugar daddies in addition to monetary compensation.
Wade has maintained that the site is not used as a vehicle to pay for sex, but rather as a way to formalize what he said are the unwritten rules of relationships between older, wealthy men, and younger, attractive partners.
As with other dating apps, the pandemic has affected Seeking Arrangement. In a video from March of last year, Wade told users that the approximately 130 employees of the company were working from home.
“It should be physical distancing, not social distancing, that is important,” he said. He encouraged people using the app to use the time “to form genuine connections to online courtships,” and said that he was using the app more than usual. He encouraged sugar daddies to send groceries, flowers, or food to their sugar babies as they physically distance.
Seeking Arrangement has attracted some attention for being a way for college students to defray the cost of education or the pressure of student loans, and the platform has leaned in to this characterization. It releases an annual ranking of the schools it says have the most sugar babies. “Sugar babies beat student debt,” the website for their dedicated college program, Sugar Baby U, says.