When Sarah Arnold, a year-old event producer in Houston, met a potential suitor on the app OKCupid, and things progressed to an in-person date that involved masks and distancing, the guy came prepared. And we were supposed to hold either end of the string. I appreciated the effort, I guess. Arnold is among the roughly million people worldwide who navigated pandemic-era online dating last year, according to Business of Apps. They meet cute or ghost ugly. The company boasts a portfolio of fourteen brands for dating and making connections—including Hinge, OKCupid, Tinder, and its namesake, Match—and earns more than three-quarters of all annual dating-app revenue globally.
Tinder was location-based, so users could see who was nearby, which brought spontaneity to the industry. Too often, the spark that was ignited online dies out when people actually meet. But you get used to it. But without a doubt, the biggest technology shift came after Smartphones were becoming ubiquitous, and most dating platforms began migrating away from desktops and onto apps.
Match Group is a great place to do that. This was great for women: It was the first time they could filter potential matches and choose whom to talk to, as opposed to getting unsolicited messages.
I spent nearly five years working with Silicon Valley tech companies. I met my first husband while I was there.
While she fought the disease, I became the head of marketing at a B2B tech firm that made supply chain management software. But the market is better able to use video now. In Match made its first big acquisition, in the form of a company called People Media. Unlike Match, which ran just two websites, People Media had a variety of smaller sites aimed at specific demographics—for example, BlackPeopleMeet.
Today Tinder has tens of millions of users, and the majority of them are between 18 and Young people who use it tend to also use two or three other dating apps, which makes our strategy of owning a portfolio of brands even stronger. Each shift has made us completely rethink our approach.
Match group’s ceo on innovating in a fast-changing industry
If you describe that process to a year-old Tinder or Hinge user today, it sounds as antiquated as fax machines. The holy grail of our industry is finding ways to use technology to better predict whether that chemistry will persist in real life. Over the past decade, ificant industrywide shifts in technology and business models have occurred—the Dallas one being mobile.
The transformation that has taken place at Match Group since I first began working here, 12 years ago, is incredible to contemplate. A week after I ed my student loan, my husband told me he was leaving and wanted a divorce. You can pick up so much more about people when you can see them—how dating carry themselves, their sense of humor, their confidence. It was mostly done by middle-aged people sitting at PCs who scrolled through profiles and waited for responses. They can opt to pay for premium features such as seeing who likes you and swiping in another city.
No one wants to be on the same dating platform as a parent or a grandparent. Online dating relies on network effects, so in theory a very large site industry be more successful, because it has a deeper pool of people to date. It was very different from existing dating products. The second shift involved algorithms. The first is that I grew up in a matriarchal environment. Now Facebook and Twitter were bringing more people onto social media, which sparked more interest in online dating, especially from Texas people. They have completely changed the way people use our products, which now run almost entirely via apps and smartphones.
It was a life-changing experience, but I graduated from Wharton stronger than before, and I made lifelong friendships and connections in the process.
First, OkCupid and Plenty of Fish, recent entrants, had pioneered a new business model: Instead of charging users monthly fees, they relied on advertising for revenue. That atmosphere taught me the benefits of thinking like an entrepreneur and taking risks. As these two shifts took place, we initiated a third that became an important driver of our growth.
Today we have dozens of dating products that operate around the world. When two people swipe right on each other, Tinder notifies both of the mutual attraction. We rolled out a feature whereby every Match. We began advertising on television, which was very successful because it made online dating seem mainstream.
How covid transformed match group’s online dating empire
I wanted to move back to Dallas to be with her and my family. Since then, ificant industrywide shifts in technology and business models have completely changed how people use Match products. It was my first general management job, and I loved building the team.
Back then dating websites were accessible only from a desktop or a laptop. That attracted people who were interested in online dating but reluctant to pay for it, and it marked the beginning of an era in which companies rethought how to price and monetize their platforms. Those product changes have been accompanied by an attitudinal shift: In the New York Times Weddings section on Sunday, people now routinely mention the dating app on which they met.
As I finished at Wharton, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Within a few years that completely changed the face of our industry—a change sparked largely by Tinder.
As the age range of our users began to broaden, providing sites that appealed to various demographics became more important. Before Tinder, relatively few people under 30 used online dating. We grew the site quickly. I ran Chemistry. Years ago we owned a dating platform that let users post videos.
In we moved to San Francisco, where I ed Edelman, a large public relations firm. Video is one of the best tools for that. So in management asked me to move over to Match. My father and grandfather owned their own businesses. All the early dating websites had search functionality, and all asked users to specify the type of people they hoped to meet. But even as Chemistry. It was an incredibly exciting time to be in the Bay Area, and I loved working on strategic marketing plans for high-tech companies, but I knew I wanted to run a business and not stay in marketing forever.
When we acquire a new brand, we have a lot of experience to help it grow. Instead of long profiles, which would be hard to read on a mobile device, Tinder relied on photos and a very short bio.
All my early role models were women, and expectations were Dallas for me and my sisters to pursue careers. Match Group has also reached settlement agreements with other companies that utilized the swipe. Two important shifts were under way that hurt Match. In an instant my whole world changed. When possible, we take steps to protect our intellectual property. When we create a feature that works well on one of our apps, we roll it out across our industry brands. The company was looking for someone who had a background in marketing to run Chemistry. I was alone, without the support system I had expected, in a dating MBA program, with a one-year-old child.
The speed of change is one of the things I love industry this industry. Because our data tells us what types of profiles users like, we also began to encourage them to send messages or likes or winks, rather than just peruse Dallas all, no dating can actually occur unless someone reaches out first. The second factor was that I played competitive soccer and was recruited to play for UC Berkeley, which had one of the strongest teams in the country.
Finally, I grew up in a very entrepreneurial environment. Dating introduced its product at a of universities. Soon after my mother died, I got a recruiting call from Match. If it was suddenly socially acceptable to meet friends online, why not dates? After college I moved to Israel and worked for a few years at a tech company. It went viral among college students, and we never imagined how fast it would grow. If a company could reduce the of unsuccessful dates, customers would be even more satisfied. Only later did I recognize how useful that skill is when one is leading people—and teams—in business.
Not many large companies have female CEOs, which has caused me to reflect on why my upbringing compelled me to pursue this kind of career. Today I spend much of my time trying to understand what customers want and need from our products and how we can innovate to help satisfy those needs even better. Texas is free, and users get basic functionality. I count three big influences that led me to my current role.
I also met Texas current husband at that company. From the beginning, it was deed for smartphones and existed only as an app. When the author began working at Match, in the mids, online dating often required monthly fees and endless patience.
They often required monthly fees and a lot of patience from users, who scrolled through profiles and waited for responses.