But how does it work? These so-called friends (of which there are currently 1,500 pre-registered across the country) are paid up to $60 an hour to spend time with “members” who pay those “friends” directly and are also slapped with a $5 weekly membership fee for use of the service. Friends can be hired to go clubbing, play video games, or even attend a wedding. About the only thing they can’t do is give someone they’ve just met a hand job. Sex is strictly off limits.
“Every member and friend [relationship] is going to be different, depending on what their needs are,” co-founder Josh Blundell told Business Insider Australia. “It’s definitely not a dating website. It’s for people who are lonely, without the expectation that things will move beyond a platonic friendship…If anyone was found to be outside the terms of service, we would remove them from the site.”
It is a service that seems philosophically opposed to everything we know about friendship, and for that reason, not a particularly sound business decision. The financial compensation part in particular (seriously, how depressing is that?) represents a clear imbalance in relationship dynamics, one which suggests one friend’s traits, personality, connections, time, company is more valuable than the other’s. It’s at odds with the basic definition of friendship – two people who like each other. Who would pay for this service when so many other avenues to friendship, true friendship, online or otherwise, exist already?
Quite a few people according to Blundell. Particularly those from non-English speaking backgrounds looking to set roots in Australia.