We have all heard of online dating at some point. Whether it’s from a friend who found a significant other through online dating, or a parental figure warning us about the dangers of meeting strangers online, everyone has had some experience with it. Websites and apps like OkCupid, Tinder, Zoosk, Match, eHarmony and countless others set out with the goal to have people with similar interests meet and hopefully be right for each other. There are countless other niche websites like Christianmingle or JDate that focus on matching people with specific beliefs and ways of life, but I’ll be focusing on the main websites and apps.
Dating websites and apps are meant for people who have tried real world interaction and have had no luck finding their match that way. Online dating can be seen by people as a sad and pathetic fallback, but I strongly disagree. Meeting people, let alone ones that you like, in the real world is difficult, and these devices are just a catalyst for meeting people. My issues lie in how easy online websites and apps make meeting people. The app does the heavy lifting part for you, which is actually finding the person in the first place. Ultimately, people don’t use them for dating all the time. Many people use it as a hook-up device to just meet someone attractive and not be concerned with a connection. There are plenty of apps that have tried this and failed, but, in the end, there is one app that stands out for its outstanding amount of use and stories that come from it.
Tinder is a mobile device app whose goal is to find matches between people in the same geographic area. The stories I have heard from friends about Tinder are absolutely hilarious sometimes. There are plenty of stories of friends finding each other and joking about going on a date, but one extreme story made my day. I was talking to a friend I had met at camp who informed me that they are stuck in “the worst class in existence.” When I asked what the class was about, she said, “Oh, the class is fascinating! I have an issue with the teacher…” This sounded stranger and stranger, and the reply I got when I asked what her issue with the teacher was had me laugh harder than anything else had in a long time. She said that the day before school, Tinder had some glitch and caused her to get matched with some middle-aged man. She found out the next day that the man she got matched with was none other than her teacher. “We both know what happened, but neither of us have talked about it, and it’s gonna be horrible and really awkward for the rest of the year.”
I don’t expect Tinder to disappear anytime soon. It has set itself up as a semi-reliable matchmaking device that makes meeting people beyond easy. All you have to do is wait for matches to come up and you can chat with them if you so wish. The only real issue with Tinder, and some other sites, is that it makes dating TOO easy. In the past, you would have to wander up to the person you liked and blurt out some embarrassing sentence that they would laugh at, and then it would take time and patience before something would come to be. Now, with online dating and Tinder, you skip all of the steps of finding and actively pursuing each other. Now it’s simply “Oh! This app said we’re good for each other! Want to meet and talk?” There’s a certain amount of convenience that Tinder supplies that realistically shouldn’t exist in the long run, but to each their own.
Sean Rad, Tinder’s CEO and cofounder, announced during the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia, that the two-year-old company (which currently has no revenue model) will launch a premium service in early November that will offer paying users more match-making powers.
Rad wouldn’t give me specifics but hinted that one of the new features will focus on travel and could help Tinder move into markets beyond dating. Currently location based, Tinder lets you swipe though an endless stream of photos of people looking to meet up — but only the city you’re currently in. The new premium service will likely let users break away from location limits and expand their Tinder reach. “We are adding features users have been begging us for,” said Rad. “They will offer so much value we think users are willing to pay for them.”
Rad says there will be no changes to the current, free Tinder app. Tinder has been growing like crazy. Rad won’t comment on user numbers but did say that people now swipe through 1.2 billion Tinder profiles a day — that’s billion with a “B.” He also says that each day Tinder makes more than 15 million matches.
By moving to a free-ium model, Rad is attempting to maintain Tinder’s growth, keep current users happy and start making money from all those swipes. “We had to get our product and growth right first,” says Rad. “Revenue has always been on the road map.”
It’s definitely been on Barry Diller’s map. The billionaire founder of IAC owns a controlling stake in Tinder. This June Greg Blatt, the head of IAC’s Match division predicted Tinder could earn $75 million in 2015. Rad’s new premium features are likely the first in a series of monetization moves to help Tinder get to that number.