All posts in “Tinder”

Video chatting before first dates is actually not a terrible idea

It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I locked myself in my room and waited for the clock to strike 9 p.m. Then I opened The League app on my phone, pressed a button, and stared anxiously at the countdown on my screen until a stranger appeared. 

The next two minutes were followed by awkward silences and slightly painful conversation. But after a little while, it turned out to be pretty bearable and…actually kind of fun.

For the last couple of years, I’ve watched my friends swipe left and right on dating apps, go on countless dates, and unfortunately, sometimes, get ghosted. All the while, I sat back and relaxed my relationship throne, breathing a sigh of relief that I was #blessed to not have to go through such deep, dark depths to find a partner. 

Until that relationship ended (cue Mr. Krabs on the world’s smallest violin). 

So, when I was given the opportunity to test out The League’s new speed dating feature, League Live, I was weirdly…excited? The very modern take on speed dating allows you to go on three live video dates, one after the other, all of which are two minutes each. Afterward, you can decide if they’re worthy of your physical presence.

For the time being, the thought of forcing myself out of my apartment to go out on a date gives me crippling anxiety. But a short video chat in the comfort of my own room? Sign meeeee up.   

Wait, what even is The League?

If you haven’t heard of The League, then I already know your résumé isn’t all that impressive. Just kidding. But not really.

The League is an exclusive dating app for those who are, as per its website, “typically extremely intelligent, hard-working, self-aware, and tend to go after what they want in life – and finding a partner is no exception.” In other words, an app for millennials who are proud to admit their profession is their true love.

And, in case you thought that was rare, there’s a waitlist to gain entrance. That’s because the team at The League thoroughly checks applicants on both LinkedIn and Facebook to basically, make sure they’re successful enough to be on the app (so many finance bros). It also helps to eliminate the possibility of being catfished.

Once you’re in, the process is similar to any other dating app. Create your profile, add some photos, write an intriguing bio, brag about where you went to school, and you’re done. You also have the option to link your social media accounts like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. That way, potential candidates have the option to do some extra stalking before hitting that Like button.

Yale, of course.

Yale, of course.

Image: ©Asylab

Harvard, naturally.

Harvard, naturally.

Image: ©Asylab

Unlike Tinder or Bumble, where you can aimlessly swipe until you get bored, The League limits you to a few prospects everyday at 5 p.m., aka the end of a work day. (Workaholics apparently don’t have time to think about dating while at the office.) You’ll also never be matched with anyone who doesn’t fit your preferences, no matter how specific. 

You have the option to set whether you’re looking for women, men, or both, along with age, height, distance, ethnicity, education, and religion. 

To appease my parents, I made sure to set my religion as Jewish before setting anything else. Anyone with a Jewish mother knows exactly what I’m going through here. I also accidentally set “Highly Selective” as the education, which brought me to guys who went to Ivys like Brown, Columbia, Yale, etc. Let’s just say my Rutgers degree looked super impressive.

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The number of people you’re presented with vary depending on the tier you’re in. Let’s just say, the more you pay to be part of The League, the more options and perks you get. Lower tier memberships range from $299 for three months to $399 for six months, while the more premium memberships go up to $999 per month. But there is a free tier, for peasants like me.

The experience that is League Live

As with the rest of the app, League Live has a waitlist. At the time of writing this story, there are 4,430 people waiting for the opportunity to video chat their little hearts out. It’s also only available to use on Sundays between 9 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., so it’s likely you can use being hungover as a great conversation starter. 

I’m not going to lie, I was nervous. I brushed my hair (rare occurrence for me), put some makeup on, and dedicated about 10 minutes to finding the best lighting in my room. On the bed? Near the window? On the floor right near my lamp? 

It was at that moment I also proceeded to reevaluate my entire life.

Once I situated myself, I put my Airpods in (as to not worry my roommates when they heard me talking to random men via FaceTime on a Sunday night) and pressed the Live button on the screen once the clock hit 9 p.m.

As the app was loading to find my first potential match, I started to have PTSD from the days of Chatroulette, when my friends and I would sit there hoping we’d land on an internet celeb like Jeffree Star, and not men showcasing their you-know-whats. 

Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about that.

The League’s founder Amanda Bradford confirmed they don’t let just anyone on to the live feature. “[We] only select users [for League Live] who have been on the platform long enough to have a valid ‘League Score,'” she said. “This score reflects their profile stats and behavior on the app and when talking to matches. Users must have an above-average League Score to be eligible for entrance.” 

You also have the option to end the call, and block or flag the person. At which point, The League’s customer support team deals with them.

Before each video chat starts, you’re given, like, two seconds to see their profile before you’re hit with an awkward ice breaker and then a countdown. The questions were things like:

“What do you value most in a friendship?” 

“In as simple of terms as possible, what do you think art is?”

“Have you been to any exotic travel destinations?”

Only slightly corny. 

Thankfully, I met some bad boys who started the chat by asking me if we can skip the question. Instead, every single one of them asked me about my Thanksgiving instead. Which was also … just as awkward.

“How’s working at Goldman Sachs?”

In terms of the chat interface, there is a lot going on. While live, you can see the person’s profile and talk to them simultaneously. I know it’s meant to help provide context and maybe give people ideas about what to talk about, but I legit felt like I was conducting a job interview. 

Questions I definitely asked on these calls:

“So, I see your profile says you went to…Vanderbilt? How was that?”

“How’s working at Goldman Sachs? How long have you been there?”

“So, your commute to work isn’t all that bad from where you live?”

Upon noticing I worked as a tech reporter, one guy vented to me about how he originally set out to become a journalist but fell into public relations. At which point I replied, “Well, if you need help getting back into writing, let me know.”

Ahhh, networking.

If you do happen to feel butterflies for someone during a call, you can choose to extend the call for another two minutes. Of course, that’s only if they too want to continue talking. You can also “Heart” their profile while video chatting, at which point they will see a pop-up letting them know. Very super chill. If they like you back, then a match icon will show up on their profile and you’ll see them in your matches tab. But if you need some more time to think on it, they also appear on your account to like or dislike later. 

Since I was testing out the feature, I had the opportunity to video chat with more than three people, which for sure helped ease my nerves. After a couple of attempts, I started to realize it wasn’t toooo bad. Everyone was polite, talkative, and … felt just as uncomfortable as I did. With some, two minutes flew by while with others, I was counting down the seconds. 

I also found a bit of a hack to skip over guys I already wasn’t attracted to based on their profiles. Rather than awkwardly ending live call for no reason, I would force quit the app and go back in. 

I am sorry to these men.

But the app knows when you try to bypass the system. If you leave a live date, you’re placed in a two-minute timeout before you can jump back into the live sessions.

After about 20 or so minutes, my time with League Live came to an end. As I sat on my bed and quietly reflected on what just happened, I realized the whole video chat feature isn’t such a bad idea after all. 

While I didn’t think that I’d be able to gauge whether I was attracted to or interested in someone based solely on video, I was proven wrong. It was actually a little too easy. And it saved me a lot of time, effort, and mental gymnastics that come with dating in 2019. 

Will I do it again? Maybe once in a while. But I might also start vetting guys I meet on other dating apps via FaceTime before I agree to grab drinks. Ya know, just as a precaution. 

Tinder’s interactive video series ‘Swipe Night’ is going international next year

Tinder’s big experiment with interactive content — the recently launched in-app series called Swipe Night — was a success. According to Tinder parent company Match during its Q3 earnings this week, “millions” of Tinder users tuned into to watch the show’s episodes during its run in October, and this drove double-digit increases in both matches and messages. As a result, Match confirmed its plans to launch Tinder’s new show outside the U.S. in early 2020. 

Swipe Night’s launch was something of a departure for the dating app, whose primary focus has been on connecting users for dating and other more casual affairs.

The new series presented users with something else to do in the Tinder app beyond just swiping on potential matches. Instead, you swiped on a story.

Presented in a “choose-your-own-adventure” style format that’s been popularized by Netflix, YouTube, and others, Swipe Night asked users to make decisions to advance a narrative that followed a group of friends in an “apocalyptic adventure.”

Swipe Night ChoiceThe moral and practical choices you made during Swipe Night would then be shown on your profile as a conversation starter, or as just another signal as to whether or not a match was right for you. After all, they say that the best relationships come from those who share common values, not necessarily common interests. And Swipe Night helped to uncover aspects to someone’s personality that a profile would not — like whether you’d cover for a friend who cheated, or tell your other friend who was the one being cheated on?

The 5-minute long episodes ran every Sunday night in October from 6 PM to midnight.

Though early reports on Tinder’s plans had somewhat dramatically described Swipe Night as Tinder’s launch into streaming video, it’s more accurate to call Swipe Night an engagement booster for an app that many people often find themselves needing a break from. Specifically, it could help Tinder to address issues around declines in open rates or sessions per user — metrics that often hide behind what otherwise looks like steady growth. (Tinder, for example, added another 437,000 subscribers in the quarter, leading to 5.7 million average subscribers in Q3).

Ahead of earnings, there were already signs that Swipe Night was succeeding in its efforts to boost engagement.

Tinder said in late October that matches on its app jumped 26% compared to a typical Sunday night, and messages increased 12%.

On Tinder’s earnings call with investors, Match presented some updated metrics. The company said Swipe Night led to a 20% to 25% increase in “likes” and a 30% increase in matches. And the elevated conversation levels that resulted from user participation continued for days after each episode aired. Also importantly, the series helped boost female engagement in the app.

“This really extended our appeal and resonated with Gen Z users,” said Match CEO Mandy Ginsberg. “This effort demonstrates the kind of creativity and team we have a tender and the kind of that we’re willing to make.”

Swipe Night

The company says it will make Season 1 of Swipe Night (a hint there’s more to come) available soon as an on-demand experience, and will roll out the product to international markets early next year.

Swipe Night isn’t the only video product Match Group has in the works. In other Match-owned dating apps, Plenty of Fish and Twoo, the company is starting to test live streaming broadcasts. But these are created by the app’s users, not as a polished, professional product from the company itself.

Match had reported better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter, with earnings of 51 cents per share — above analysts’ expectations for earnings of 42 cents per share. Match’s revenue was $541 million, in line with Wall St.’s expectations.

But its fourth-quarter guidance came in lower than expectations ($545M-$555M, below the projected $559.3M), sending the stock dropping. Match said it would have to take on about $10 million in expenses related to it being spun out from parent company IAC.

Lawyers for former Tinder execs file to dismiss defamation lawsuit

Last week, former Tinder CEO Greg Blatt filed a defamation lawsuit against Sean Rad and Rosette Pambakian, who are part of a group of Tinder founders and former executives who accused Blatt (pictured above) of sexual harassment and assault as part of a broader suit.

Now Rad and Pambakian’s attorneys have filed their own motion to dismiss the suit, arguing that it “seeks to chill protected speech through costly litigation” — in other words, that it’s the kind of lawsuit prohibited under California’s anti-SLAPP law.

“This lawsuit is intended to muzzle Rosette and Sean from telling the truth about how [IAC chairman] Barry Diller and Greg Blatt stole from their employees and covered up sexual assault allegations,” said Rad and Pambakian’s attorney Orin Snyder in a statement. “Unfortunately, unlawful retaliatory lawsuits like this one designed to silence victims and violate their First Amendment rights are all too common in the #metoo era.”

In the filing, Rad and Pambakian’s attorneys also argued that Blatt filed the suit “solely to launch a public smear campaign against Pambakian and the person who reported the assault to Match, Sean Rad. At the same time, and now that Blatt’s public court filings have served his media objective, Blatt says that the complaint that he himself chose to file in court should actually be sent to private arbitration.”

In response, Blatt’s attorney Vineet Bhatia sent the following statement:

We fully expected this run-of-the-mill, procedural smoke screen to be made by Rad and Pambakian. These arguments are legally wrong and we expect to prevail in Court. The bottom line is, Rad and Pambakian conspired to defame Mr. Blatt and should be held responsible.

Both Blatt’s suit and the new filing seek to connect the case to the broader #metoo movement (which, as Snyder alluded to, has seen number of high-profile figures accused of sexual assault, and who then fought back through defamation lawsuits).

Blatt’s lawyers argued that “Rad and Pambakian have attempted to weaponize an important social movement, undermining the plight of true victims of sexual abuse by making false accusations in cynical pursuit of a $2 billion windfall.”

In contrast, Rad and Pambakian’s attorneys said the “ensuing crescendo of retaliation — reminiscent of many Hollywood #MeToo cases — included [Tinder’s parent company] Match circling the wagons around Blatt, publicly belittling Pambakian by chalking up the assault to ‘consensual cuddling,’ and firing her months later after she refused to sign an NDA.”

In a lawsuit filed in the summer of 2018, Rad (Tinder’s co-founder and former CEO), Pambakian (who was then the company’s vice president of marketing and communications), Rad’s fellow co-founders Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen and others sued Match and its controlling shareholder IAC, accusing them of manipulating financial data and removing Rad as CEO in order to create a “fake lowball valuation” and strip the founders and executives of their stock options.

The suit also accused Blatt — who served as an executive at IAC and as CEO of Match before replacing Rad as CEO of Tinder — of sexually harassing Pambakian at a company holiday party in 2016.

IAC and Match have called this suit meritless. And in Blatt’s defamation lawsuit, his attorneys said the encounter between Blatt and Pambakian at the holiday party was consensual and that Rad and Pambakian subsequently “conspired to make false allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Blatt with the specific intent to damage Blatt’s good name, personal and professional reputation, and credibility.”

In a footnote, Rad and Pambakian’s attorney say that because they’re making a free speech argument, their motion to dismiss Blatt’s suit does not require the court to “delve into the facts.” However, they add:

Blatt’s false narrative — that this was consensual, and that Pambakian and Rad concocted the assault allegations to aid their valuation lawsuit — is patently false and offensive. The evidence shows that Blatt admitted being drunk at the holiday party, making inappropriate comments to Pambakian, and “snuggling and nuzzling” her in a hotel bed. It further shows that Blatt apologized to Pambakian the following week, and later offered to resign over his misconduct. These are not the actions of an innocent man, nor is it the first time Blatt has been accused of mistreating women in the workplace.

To back that up that up, the motion points to a Gawker article describing supposed harassment and verbal abuse by an unnamed “CEO of a major dating site” owned by a corporation “in a glass building on the far side of town” (subsequent coverage has suggested that the piece was about Blatt).

Pambakian withdrew from the initial suit due to an arbitration agreement, but is now suing Blatt and Match for wrongful termination and sexual assault.

You can read the full motion below.

Why did Tinder make a show about the apocalypse? We drank margaritas and found out.

Tinder’s new “Swipe Night” is a … product? Experience? TV show? Last night during the series’ premiere, the company tried to explain to reporters why it got into the content game. Honestly, it kind of made sense.

Every Sunday in October from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. local time, U.S. Tinder users will be able to access a new five-minute scripted episode of “Swipe Night,” an interactive series following a group of friends in the last three hours on Earth before a comet destroys us all. 

It’s all viewed through first person, as if you are a character in the story and member of the friend group, too. And it’s even further “interactive” in that users determine the course of events through choose-your-own-adventure-style scenarios, which you “swipe” to choose. 

But it’s more than just a content offering or game. Tinder says that the choices you make in the game will get integrated into its matching algorithm, another data point for compatibility. Additionally, some of the “Critical Choices” you make in the episode (did you decide to save a person, or save a puppy?) will show up on your actual Tinder profile. On premiere night, when users weren’t as wise to how their choices might appear on their profiles, that became extremely revealing.

To celebrate the launch on premiere night Sunday, Tinder invited reporters and influencers to its West Hollywood offices. Thematic decorations like comet projections and tinfoil-covered computers, and snacks like Pop Rocks, asteroid Cheetos, margaritas in a shade of radioactive red, and, of course, champagne, abounded.

Cosmic margaritas and first aid kits were on offering at Tinder on Sunday.

Cosmic margaritas and first aid kits were on offering at Tinder on Sunday.

Image: rachel kraus / mashable

They told us to take the First Aid kits... gulp.

They told us to take the First Aid kits… gulp.

Image: Rachel kraus / mashable

“It didn’t really hit me when they said they have 50 million users,” one of the series’ two writers, Nicole Delaney, said. “To think that in one night, all these people get to access this thing, this story, and then the whole purpose is to connect and talk about it, is so cool, it’s so beyond the realm of who and what we create for.”

Tinder says that one of the biggest goals of Swipe Night is to give users something to talk about. Speaking to reporters, Tinder CEO Elie Seidman explained that Tinder made approaching new people easier than in the real world. Conversely, what you talk about once you approach someone is harder in the digital realm, where there’s not really a “Come here often?” line of conversation available.

“When you’re staring at that messaging screen with that match, both men and women struggle a lot with ‘What do I say?'” Seidman said. “There isn’t a contextual environment. We’ve been wrestling with that challenge, and would like to offer some help.”

Enter Swipe Night, a common experience where you and a match can talk about the choices you made. Is that need for conversational ~tinder~ a little depressing? Maybe. But for anyone who’s received “hey” after “sup” after “heyyyyy” in their messaging screen, it also makes sense.

Searching for answers about how choices in a five-minute game get analyzed by the love formula, I asked Tinder’s chief product officer, Ravi Mehta, whether Swipe Night players will get matched with users who made the same choices they did, or different ones. It turns out it’s a combination of both.

“There’s the old adage that opposites attract,” Mehta said. “When you make the same decisions as someone else, there’s less to talk about.”

After the party, I played Swipe Night with my sister, who uses Tinder regularly, if begrudgingly. The way matching actually seemed to work was that, after the game, you were served up Tinder users like normal, and their profiles indicated if they had played Swipe Night. If they had, it would show if they ended up in the same location as you (there are three possible “endings” to episode 1), and my sister frequently matched with people who had ended up at “Molly’s House,” like her. However, she frequently didn’t get people who made all of the same “Critical Choices.”

This, to me, is the best part about Swipe Night: that it makes matching, and the whole Tinder experience, more fun. In addition to the actual show being entertaining, my sister and I spent an hour in the app afterwards, laughing through swipes as we tried to guess which guys would have made which choices. 

In between enthusing to me about how Tinder was trying to appeal to Gen Z, the UCLA college brand rep for Tinder U (whose Instagram is below) said that she’d felt a lull with Tinder of late; that swiping had become a bit of a slog for her. But Swipe Night was something new that gave her a reason to go back.

My sister agreed. 

“Way to make the depressing swamp of swiping through profiles fun again, Tinder,” she said. 

That, and a whole new product experience, was cause for celebration. Swipe Night team members all wore black bomber jackets emblazoned with the logo. While big wigs and us reporters were shepherded to the roof for a cocktail hour, the engineering team in the Swipe Night “war room” drank beer and ate pizza, while allegedly analyzing the data that was pouring in in real time.

At the party, Tinder really did commit to the theme. The plot of Swipe Night involves a comet careening into Earth, so everything — drinks, desserts, decor — was vaguely space oriented. The whole offices and party area kind of looked like a bubblegum mashup of retro neon ’80s style that had been invaded by aliens.

Bomber jackets were out in force.

Bomber jackets were out in force.

Image: rachel kraus / mashable

Planetary chic.

Planetary chic.

Image: RACHEL KRAUS / MASHABLE

Even if some people on Tinder are commitment-phobic, Tinder still commits to a theme.

Even if some people on Tinder are commitment-phobic, Tinder still commits to a theme.

Image: rachel kraus / mashable

Reflecting the anecdotal sentiments of the Tinder U brand rep and, um, my sister, there have been reports that Tinder engagement is lagging. While it continues to amass users, third party analytics companies like SensorTower report that the time people spend in the app, and sentiment about the app, is decreasing. 

Swipe Night could be the neon-infused juice Tinder needs. On Sunday, there was a lot of talk from executives about how Swipe Night was meant to appeal to Gen Z, or to give people something to talk about, or to create an Authentic experience. But overall, the novelty, and the fact that it is quick (just five minutes!), and actually fun, seems to be what Swipe Night has going for it.

And that’s certainly worth a party.

‘Covered for Graham’? Tinder’s ‘Swipe Night’ debut revealed a moment of rare honesty

It’s the end of the world. Do you cover for your friend who has just cheated on his girlfriend? Or do you tell the girlfriend, who is also your friend?

This is one of the scenarios players face in Tinder’s new interactive series, Swipe Night. The weekly episodic game/online series/profile matching tool debuted in the US last night. Tinder users only had until midnight to consume episode 1, and can’t play it over again. The next chance they’ll have to play and make decisions in the apocalyptic scenario is in episode 2, next Sunday.

The format is innovative and, well, fun, as a whole. But with the premiere of a new kind of content, something interesting and all too rare happened: people were accidentally super honest, in public.

When you launch Swipe Night, the app tells you that your choices will be used to inform who you match with after the game. It seems like the decision of whether to, for example, compliment or troll a friend, will be just another data point in your algorithmic existence, unseen to anyone but whirring computers. 

You’d be wrong. Tinder is not super specific about the fact that some of the choices you make won’t just be used to suggest matches, but that they’ll actually be *displayed* on your profile.

So, in the above scenario about the cheating beau, A.K.A. “Graham,” a moment of truth — and a meme — emerged.

While scrolling through profiles after playing Swipe Night, my sister and I compared profile bios and pictures to a whole new data set: the crucial choices people made in Swipe Night. One of the choices was how the person treated the cheating friend.

Points for saving the puppy.

Points for saving the puppy.

Image: screenshot; rachel kraus / mashable

Cackling, we realized that anyone whose profile displayed that he had “Covered for Graham” was an automatic swipe left. Who on earth would match with a dude who decided to cover for a two-timing bro rather than be honest with a woman? Not us!!

The internet agreed.

This choice that people made without knowing that it would be put on display said way more about the dudebros of Tinder than any bio. Oh, so your profile says that “honesty” is super important, but you “Covered for Graham”? Bye! Hmm, you look like a bit of an a-hole, but you “Told Lucy the Truth”? Maybe we’ll give this guy a shot.

Of course, the Covered for Graham phenomenon isn’t something that will necessarily reoccur. The scenario and subsequent choice was particularly revealing. 

But more than that, on this, the premiere, no one really knew how Swipe Night and matching would work, yet. So users apparently played the game in good faith — no one was wise yet about how to game the system. In the future, people might make choices more carefully, knowing that prospective matches would judge them for it.

Organic and unmanufactured presentations of ourselves only happen every so often on social media. It happens when a new platform launches, or a new game or filter or tool debuts, and people get to just play. Especially on a platform like Tinder, we’re too conscious of how we choose to present ourselves to actually communicate something revealing (say, whether covering for a bro or being honest with a girl is more important to you). So with the launch of Swipe Night, and Graham’s indiscretions, Tinder gave us something, rare, and real. 

Oh, also? Screw Graham.