Match Group restructures exec team with focus on Asia

Tinder parent company Match Group, also the owner of a suite of dating apps including OkCupid, Meetic, Match, PlentyofFish and others, announced this morning plans to restructure its leadership team in order to better focus on the market opportunities for dating apps in Asia. Specifically, the company has appointed three new general managers in Asia to focus on areas like Japan, Taiwan, India, South Korea and other parts of Southeast Asia.

The company explains its decision has to do with the potential it sees for growth outside the U.S. and Europe, where there are more than 400 million singles, two-thirds who have not yet tried a dating app.

One of the new GMs is Tokyo-based Junya Ishibashi, who has been CEO of Match Group’s Eureka business in Japan. He now becomes the general manager of Match Group for Japan and Taiwan.

Taru Kapoor, who’s based in Delhi, will be GM of Match Group India. And Seoul-based Lyla Seo, who previously served as regional director of East Asia for Tinder, is now GM of Match Group for South Korea and Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Alexandre Lubot, who has served as both CEO of Meetic and CEO of Match Group EMEA & APAC since 2016, will remain CEO of Match Group EMEA & APAC. He will oversee the brands across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with the three general managers reporting directly to him.

Meetic, which is Match Group’s European dating app, will now be overseen by Matthieu Jacquier, who has worked as a CPO with the company for a year. Alongside Jacquier, Elisabeth Peyraube will now take on a new role of COO & CFO of Match Group EMEA & APAC.

While Match Group plans for growth across Asia, India has been of particular importance, especially as rival dating app Bumble entered the country last year, where it tapped actress, celebrity and Bumble investor Priyanka Chopra to advise its expansion.

Tinder has also tried to cater to its Indian users with the more recent launches of expanded gender options in its app, and the Bumble-like “My Move” feature, which allows the women to chat first.

However, Tinder’s strategy in India needs to differ from here in the U.S. where it’s now promoting the young, carefree and often less relationship-focused “single lifestyle.” In India (as well as in China and other markets), dating apps today still face challenges due to cultural norms. That’s led to an unbalanced ratio between men and women using the apps in India, a report from The Wall Street Journal found. And when women join, they’re overwhelmed by the attention they receive, as a result.

These issues will require Tinder to adapt everything from its marketing and advertising messages to even its product features in order to better cater to its Indian users. And it requires someone who fully understands the market to lead.

“Taru was originally hired to grow Tinder in India, but a little more than a year ago we increased her responsibilities to oversee the growth of other Match Group products in the country,” said Mandy Ginsberg, Match Group CEO, in a statement about the leadership restructuring. “During that time Tinder has become a big brand in India, but Taru also has meaningfully grown OkCupid’s user base in India over the last six months due to her keen understanding of the market and culture. Her success is a template for how we can approach these emerging Asian markets, particularly when we have stellar talent on the ground that understands the cultural, regulatory and market dynamics at play,” she added.

In Korea, Match Group credits Seo with executing Tinder’s first-ever TV ad campaign, which helped increase downloads in Korea 2.5x from 2016 to 2018.

The company also says Ishibashi more than doubled Pairs’ revenue in Japan since its acquisition in 2015.

Both executives will oversee other Match Group brands in their respective markets as part of their new responsibilities.

Match Group has been growing its footprint in the Asian market for some time. On its Q4 2018 earnings call in February, the company noted it already had teams in around half a dozen key countries throughout Asia focused on its marketing programs and developing the cultural insight it needed to succeed in those regions.

Ginsberg now says she would like to see a quarter of Match Group’s revenue coming from Asia within five years.

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Tinder launches a Spring Break mode

Tinder, the dating app company which, as of late, has been more fully embracing its status as the preferred hook-up app of choice for the younger generation, is today launching a new feature designed for its college-aged Tinder U users: Spring Break mode. The feature will allow students to swipe through potential matches before heading out to their Spring Break destination.

Here’s how it works.

From March 4 through March 31, 2019, Spring Break mode will go live in Tinder offering 20 popular destinations, including Cabo, Lake Havasu, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Puerto Vallarta, San Diego and others. To opt in, Tinder U users will need to look for the Spring Break card while swiping.

When they see it, they can then select their Spring Break destination to see who’s going. This destination will then be shown to potential matches through a badge on their profiles.

The idea, says Tinder, was inspired by trends the company was already seeing in product usage during this March time frame, when there would be huge upticks in some cities and locations. For example, South Padre Island experienced a 100x increase in activity in March 2018 compared to the previous month; Panama City saw a 10x increase; Destin Beach a 6x increase; and both Cabo San Lucas and Lake Havasu saw a 2x increase.

In addition to using its own data from past spring breaks, Tinder also consulted with its Tinder U users about which destinations to include.

“Spring Break, like Tinder, is a staple for many college students across the country,” said Jenny Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer at Tinder, in a statement. “We’ve historically seen huge upticks in Tinder usage during Spring Break in these destinations, and we are excited to give users the unique experience to connect before they pack their bags,” she said.

The new feature is one of several ways that Tinder is focusing on its more casual use case, as of late. Last November, the company told investors during its Q3 earnings that it would begin marketing the app as a way to enjoy the “single lifestyle” – that is, catering to a younger demographic’s demand for wanting to date around while in their 20’s – before they’re ready to settle down.

Tinder had also begun an online publication, Swipe Life, and is running various advertising campaigns, related to this initiative.

For years, Tinder had tried to downplay the app’s more casual nature, but it’s now able to change course due to its acquisition of dating app Hinge. Similarly aimed at younger users and millennials, Hinge is focused on creating relationships, not hook-ups. That frees up Tinder to refocus on what it does best: quick matches.

Tinder parent Match Group had hinted at its plans for Tinder U, during its earnings call earlier this month.

“In 2019, we are planning to solidify our leadership position among college students by expanding Tinder U to cover even more schools throughout the U.S. while also launching Tinder U in select international markets,” said Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg, speaking to investors. “We’re also expanding marketing through our on campus brand ambassadors and social media influencers. Expect to see more events and marketing tied to the school social calendar such as Rivalry Week and Spring Break,” she noted.

However, by shifting focus more towards a younger, less established customer base, Tinder could be challenged on the revenue side as college students are less likely to have disposable incomes for things like a paid Tinder Gold subscription. Instead, Tinder will need to generate revenue from these users through in-app purchases – like Boost and Super Like (the latter which is often used by mistake, turning it into a running joke on the dating app.)

Tinder said it’s considering rolling out a wider range of a la carte features in the future, and plans to focus on this aspect of its service, as well, in 2019.

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Tinder settles lawsuit over age discrimination


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Mature romantics just caught a break. Tinder has settled a lawsuit accusing it of age discrimination for charging the 30-and-up crowd double to subscribe to its premium Tinder Plus service. The Match Group-owned brand will pay $17.25 million in cash and in-app features (such as $25 checks, Super Likes and Plus/Gold subscriptions) to users who had to pay $20 per month instead of the $10 offered to younger customers. Tinder will also have to stop charging general age-based rates in California, although it will have the option of discounting service for people 21 or younger.

The woman behind the lawsuit, Lisa Kim, will also receive $5,000.

We’ve asked Tinder for comment. The company had previously defended the age-related rates by likening them to student pricing. Younger users typically don’t have as much money to spend, it argued, so they needed a lower price to justify signing up. However, the rate was dictated solely by age, not educational or economic status — you could be a 32-year-old in school and still pay twice as much as a 29-year-old with money to burn. It’s safe to say Tinder will need to use narrower criteria than age if it plans a similar pricing strategy in the future.

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