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t 10 o'clock in the morning, Markus Frind leaves his apartment and heads to work. The problem is that he is still getting used to the idea of a commute that involves traveling farther than the distance between the living room and the bedroom.It's a short walk through downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, but somehow the trek feels arduous. Frind's online dating company, Plenty of Fish, is newly located on the 26th floor of a downtown skyscraper with a revolving restaurant on the roof.Frind will spend hours hiding in the three-bedroom apartment he and Kanciar share, furtively flipping light switches, tapping on doors, and ducking into rooms to play on his girlfriend's fear of ghosts.Another memorable valentine involved the secret consumption of a massive quantity of hot peppers."Markus is one of those engineers who is just more comfortable sitting in front of a computer than he is talking to someone face to face," says Noel Biderman, the co-founder of Avid Life Media, a Toronto-based company that owns several dating sites.When he does engage in conversation, Frind can be disarmingly frank, delivering vitriolic quips with a self-assured cheerfulness that feels almost mean.
In most stories, this is where the hard work begins -- the long hours, sleepless nights, and near-death business experiences. Frind takes it easy, working no more than 20 hours a week during the busiest times and usually no more than 10.
The family's closest neighbors were a mile and a half away, and, apart from a younger brother, Frind had few friends.
"His problem was English," says his father, Eduard Frind.
The gleaming space could easily house 30 employees, but as Frind strides in, it is eerily quiet -- just a room with new carpets, freshly painted walls, and eight flat-screen computer monitors.
Frind drops his bag and plops himself down in front of one of them. There's a 0,000 order waiting for his signature.
"Once in a while, from the middle of nowhere, he'll say, 'Why is that girl doing that? ' He'll check people out in restaurants and watch how they interact.