The number of swipes on Tinder — whether they be swipes to the right (that’s good) or swipes to the left (not so good)– has nearly doubled in the last three months.
The hot mobile app from the West Hollywood, Calif.-based company is all about playing matchmaker for users who are in the same social circles or simply nearby and using Tinder. Those matches lead to new friendships, romantic relationships and yes, especially modern-day versions of one-night stands.
Sean Rad, founder and CEO of the company, sees it this way: Tinder is “really an analogue for what we do in the real world.” Perhaps that’s why the app is still sparking new interests, despite a series of security breaches that have exposed users’ locations and email addresses to potential hackers. Tinder is currently processing an average of 750 million swipes and 10 million matches per day, Rad told attendees at the Upfront Summit in Los Angeles.
“We’re approaching a billion total matches” to date, says Rad. But it’s Tinder’s match rate, how many swipes it takes to get a match, which is the most important metric for Rad and his team of 32 employees. Other numbers are promising as well.
“The average user spends an average of 60 minutes per day on the app,” he says. “Fifty-seven percent of our active users are using the app every single day, an average of seven times a day.” That’s a lot of effort for an app that’s, as Rad puts it, “best for single people.”
Rad started the company almost 18 months ago because he and many of his friends began to realize they were having trouble meeting new people. “Part of the trouble is that you’re either a hunter, you’re going after a relationship& and you’re naturally subjected to rejection,” he says. “Or people come to you” and unduly violate that person’s personal or digital space in the process.
Optimizing Fleeting Encounters
The most deliberate intent of a match on Tinder is to remove some of those inherent tensions, says Rad. “That’s what we consider the optimal connection where you’re no longer the aggressor, you’re no longer the receiver.”
Rad doesn’t believe in faking real and organic engagement, so Tinder has grown almost entirely by word of mouth. Of course the kudos and mentions in the press from athletes looking to flirt in the Olympic Village earlier this month certainly helped. Tinder has grown from an average of 400 million swipes per day in November to 750 million daily swipes today.
Most new users are just looking for entertainment and not necessarily looking to make a match, Rad says. But when that first match happens and users realize they “just connected with this real human being,” they start to see the value of Tinder on much deeper level, he adds.
“Everyone has a different definition of hot. Our job is to make sure that you see what you find relevant,” Rad says. “We know a lot about what leads to a meaningful conversation, a meaningful first encounter.”
Without setting a context for what those matches might entail, the make-or-break point for most users begins with a photo. “It is all about the picture. We’re not ashamed to say that. In the real world, you all have that initial first impression and that look& I think we underestimate the power of our brains to tell a story by looking at a photo,” says Rad.
Looks may be purely superficial to some, but Tinder makes no qualms about what it can and cannot change about human interaction and points of attraction. Headshots and modeling pics can only go so far.
“People respond to photos that express what you are, not just what you look like,” says Rad. “The vast majority of our audience has many, many matches& The average is over one match a day.”
Anywhere but Silicon Valley
In a venue full of many of the industry’s leading venture capitalists and investors, it was inevitable that Rad would be asked why he decided to start Tinder here in Southern California. The advantage for Tinder isn’t so much about being in the Los Angeles area but rather anywhere but the Silicon Valley echo chamber.
“When you’re in a very dense tech community and you walk out of the office, you’re interacting with the community. We’re talking to normal people. These are people that don’t even know what the tech community means,” Rad says.
“That translates back in to the decisions we make in Tinder,” Rad says. “The advantage is not being within a very dense ecosystem of like-minded individuals.”
Matt Kapko has been writing about technology since before the dawn of the iPhone, and covering media well before it was social. Matt lives with his wife in a nearly century-old craftsman in Long Beach, Calif. He can be reached on Twitter: @mattkapko or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.