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Tinder founders sue parent companies Match and IAC for at least $2B

A group of Tinder founders and executives has filed a lawsuit against parent company Match Group and its controlling shareholder IAC. The plaintiffs in the suit include Tinder co-founders Sean Rad, Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen — Badeen still works at Tinder, as do plaintiffs James Kim (the company’s vice president of finance) and Rosette Pambakian (its vice president of marketing and communications). We’ve reached out to IAC for comment, as well as Pambakian, who’s served as our main contact at Tinder. We’ll update the post if we hear back. The suit alleges that IAC and Match Group manipulated financial data in order to create “a fake lowball valuation” (to quote the plaintiffs’ press release ), then stripped Rad, Mateen, Badeen and others of their stock options. It points to the removal of Rad as CEO , as well as other management changes, as moves designed “to allow Defendants to control the valuation of Tinder and deprive Tinder optionholders of their right to participate in the company’s future success.” The lawsuit also alleges that Greg Blatt, the Match CEO who became CEO of Tinder as well, groped and sexually harassed Pambakian at the company’s 2016 holiday party, supposedly leading the company to “whitewash” his actions long enough for him to complete the valuation of Tinder and its merger with Match Group, and then to  announce his departure . In response, the plaintiffs are asking for “compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than $2,000,000,000.” “We were always concerned about IAC’s reputation for ignoring their contractual commitments and acting like the rules don’t apply to them,” Rad said in the release. “But we never imagined the lengths they would go to cheat all the people who built Tinder. The Tinder team — especially the plaintiffs who are currently senior leaders at the company — have shown tremendous strength in exposing IAC/Match’s systematic violation of employees’ rights.” Update: We’ve just received the following joint statement from IAC and Match Group. The allegations in the complaint are meritless, and IAC and Match Group intend to vigorously defend against them. Since Tinder’s inception, Match Group has paid out in excess of a billion dollars in equity compensation to Tinder’s founders and employees. With respect to the matters alleged in the complaint, the facts are simple: Match Group and the plaintiffs went through a rigorous, contractually – defined valuation process involving two independent global investment banks, and Mr. Rad and his merry band of plaintiffs did not like the outcome. Mr

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Hinge sells 51 percent of shares to Match Group

Match Group, parent company of dating apps Tinder, OKCupid and Match, announced yesterday that it has acquired a 51 percent stake in Hinge . With this new acquisition, Match Group has the right to acquire all remaining shares of Hinge within a 12-month period. Match Group says its interest in Hinge began in 2017 after a redesign in which it did away with the “right swipe” in favor of more detailed profiles. According to a statement from Hinge, its app saw 400 percent growth in its user base after these changes. In a dating world often dominated by “hook-ups,” Hinge positions itself as a the “relationship app” and focuses on building real relationships instead. Hinge in many ways is the antithesis to Tinder, but Match Group says this is part of the advantage to the partnership, not an obstacle. “Dating isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach,” a Match Group spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We operate a variety of products because people gravitate to different apps for different reasons.” Hinge CEO Justin McLeod says that this merger will help the company expand even further than it could alone. “At a certain point, having the scaling capability of a well-funded and experienced partner like Match Group makes sense,” McLeod told TechCrunch. “We want to bring a more thoughtful dating experience to the most people.” This acquisition by Match Group follows a reportedly failed attempt to acquire the dating app Bumble in November. Following the collapse of those discussions, Match Group filed a lawsuit against Bumble in March for patent infringement, claiming that it “copied Tinder’s world-changing, card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise.” Two weeks later,  Bumble followed up with its own lawsuit to the tune of $400 million that alleged Match Group fraudulently obtained trade secrets during its acquisition talks six months earlier. These lawsuits are still being settled. Hinge offers an alternative acquisition for Match, which is clearly looking to continue diversifying its dating offerings

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Crown, a new app from Tinder’s parent company, turns dating into a game

If you’re already resentful of online dating culture and how it turned finding companionship into a game, you may not be quite ready for this: Crown , a new dating app that actually turns getting matches into a game. Crown is the latest project to launch from Match Group, the operator of a number of dating sites and apps including Match, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, OK Cupid, and others. The app was thought up by Match Product Manager Patricia Parker, who understands first-hand both the challenges and the benefits of online dating – Parker met her husband online, so has direct experience in the world of online dating. Crown won Match Group’s internal “ideathon,” and was then developed in-house by a team of millennial women, with a goal of serving women’s needs in particular. The main problem Crown is trying to solve is the cognitive overload of using dating apps. As Match Group scientific advisor Dr. Helen Fisher explained a few years ago to  Wired , dating apps can become addictive because there’s so much choice. “The more you look and look for a partner the more likely it is that you’ll end up with nobody…It’s called cognitive overload,” she had said. “There is a natural human predisposition to keep looking—to find something better. And with so many alternatives and opportunities for better mates in the online world, it’s easy to get into an addictive mode.” Millennials are also prone to swipe fatigue, as they spend an average of 10 hours per week in dating apps, and are being warned to cut down or face burnout. Crown’s approach to these issues is to turn getting matches into a game of sorts. While other dating apps present you with an endless stream of people to pick from, Crown offers a more limited selection. Every day at noon, you’re presented with 16 curated matches, picked by some mysterious algorithm.

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