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 becomes the top-grossing, non-game app in Q1 2019, ending Netflix’s reign

For the first time in years, Netflix is no longer the top grossing, non-game mobile app. Instead, that title now goes to dating app Tinder. The change in position is not surprising, given Netflix’s decision in December to stop paying the so-called “Apple tax.” That is, it no longer allows new users to sign up and subscribe to its service through its iOS application.

The change was said to cost Apple hundreds of millions in lost revenue per year, given that Netflix’s app had been the world’s top-earning, non-game app since Q4 2016. Now, instead of giving up its 15 to 30 percent cut of subscription revenue, new users have to sign up through Netflix’s website before they can use the app on mobile devices, including both iOS and Android. (Netflix had dropped in-app subscriptions on Android earlier.)

App store intelligence firm Sensor Tower estimated Netflix had earned $853 million in 2018 on the iOS App Store. A 30 percent cut would have been around $256 million. However, after the first year, subscription apps only have to pay out 15 percent to Apple. But Netflix had a special deal, according to John Gruber — it only had to pay 15 percent from the get-go.

In any event, it’s still a large sum. And one large enough to end Netflix’s reign at the top of the revenue charts.

In Q1 2019, Sensor Tower estimates Netflix pulled in $216.3 million globally, across both the Apple App Store and Google Play, down 15 percent quarter-over-quarter from $255.7 million in Q4 2018.

Meanwhile, Tinder’s revenue has climbed. In the first quarter, it saw revenue grow by 42 percent year-over-year, to reach $260.7 million, up from $183 million in Q1 2018.

That put it at the top, according to both Sensor Tower and App Annie’s estimates.

Beyond Tinder, Line, and Line Manga, the rest of the top grossing, non-game apps in Q1 2019 were also focused on streaming, music and video, in Sensor Tower’s analysis. This included Tencent Video (No. 3), iQIYI (No. 4), YouTube (No. 5), Pandora (No. 6), Kwai (No. 7), and Youku (No. 10).

Meanwhile the top downloaded, non-game apps in the quarter were largely those focused on social media, messaging and video. This included, in order: WhatsApp, Messenger, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, SHAREit, YouTube, LIKE Video, Netflix and Snapchat.

tiktok ios icon

TikTok, notably, has held onto its No. 3 position, having grown its new users 70 percent year-over-year, by adding 188 million in Q1. The growth was driven by India, where 88.6 million new users joined the app, compared with “just” 13.2 million in the U.S. — or 181 percent year-over-year growth.

To date, Sensor Tower has seen the app installed over 1.1 billion times. (But keep in mind that’s not total users — many people install it on multiple devices. Nor is it monthly active users. On that front, the app has 500 million monthly actives, as of the end of its third quarter 2018.)

TikTok also did well on the revenue side thanks to in-app purchases, though not well enough to start ranking in the top charts. User spending was 222 percent higher in Q1 2019 versus Q1 2018, reaching an estimated $18.9 million worldwide.

Overall, Apple’s App Store accounted for 64 percent of revenue in Q1, with consumer spending reaching $12.4 billion compared to Google Play’s $7.1 billion. New app downloads slowed on iOS in Q1, decreasing 4.7 percent year-over-year to 7.4 billion, while Google Play downloads grew 18.8 percent to 20.7 billion.

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Tinder hires Ravi Mehta to fill Chief Product Officer position

Tinder today announced it has hired Facebook vet Ravi Mehta as its new Chief Product Officer, as the company continues to shift Tinder’s focus to the younger demographic still enjoying the “single lifestyle.” Mehta’s background includes over 20 years in the industry, including time at Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Microsoft. Most recently, Mehta had served as Product Director for Youth Engagement at Facebook.

This role involved research into how Gen Z spends time online and helped Facebook identified product opportunities to serve this demographic. While there, Mehta was involved in Facebook’s launch of the short-form video app Lasso, which aims to be Facebook’s TikTok rival. He also worked on the launch of Facebook Polls and aided with his team’s M&A strategy.

Prior to Facebook, Mehta worked at TripAdvisor leading product development for the Hotels, Attractions, and Restaurants verticals–and launched instant booking. He led user experience teams across a number of areas, including mobile, personalization, search & discovery, trip planning, maps, and user-generated content; and directed the international market development and localization teams.

His other experience includes time at Viximo (acquired by Tapjoy), AdvisorNow, Microsoft and the Boston Consulting Group.

At Tinder, Mehta fills the role vacated by Brian Norgard in November 2018.

Norgard had joined Tinder through an acquisition in 2014, where he originally served as head of revenue before being promoted to the chief product role in late 2016. At the time of his departure, Norgard said he wanted to get back to his entrepreneurial roots and invest in early stage companies.

Tinder had not announced an interim CPO following Norgard’s departure.

Mehta’s hiring comes at a time when Tinder parent Match Group is further diversifying its portfolio of dating apps.

With its full acquisition of relationship-focused Hinge, the company is now focusing Tinder more on a young, 20-something user base – that is, those who aren’t ready to settle down, but are rather enjoying being single and dating more casually. As part of this shift, Tinder now runs a lifestyle publication, Swipe Life, which publishes stories about dating styles, alongside others about travel, food, and other trends.

It has also invested more heavily in product features catering to a younger demographic, like Tinder U and its related features such as Spring Break mode and Rivals Week. And Tinder is now targeting activities often favored by young people, like music festivals and parties, with last year’s launch of Swipe Surge.

On Match’s latest earnings call, the company said it would expand Tinder U in 2019 to cover more schools in the U.S., launch the product internationally, and create more events and marketing around school events and the social calendar, as it did with Spring Break mode. It makes sense, then, that Tinder would want to find someone whose background involved products catering to Gen Z users.

“Tinder’s product innovation brought an entire new generation to the category and now millions of people across the globe are connecting, dating, and starting relationships. It has become a social phenomenon and the go-to app when you are single. As we enter the next chapter of product innovation and international growth, we are excited to have Ravi’s perspective and experience at Tinder,” said Tinder CEO Elie Seidman, in a statement about the hiring.

“Tinder is one of the rare products that’s had a fundamental impact on how people around the world meet and connect. And there’s so much more to do. I’m looking forward to joining Elie’s team and hitting the ground running,” said Mehta.

Mehta has an M.B.A. from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Boston University.

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Tinder says it's introducing height verification. If only.

Dude, be real.
Dude, be real.
Image: Tinder

Statistics don’t lie. According to Tinder, most guys who state 5’10” as their height on Tinder profiles are actually 5’6″. This is just plain unfair to dudes who are actually 5’10” tall, and Tinder is determined to put a stop to it. 

The company has launched a new feature called the Height Verification Badge (HVB), essentially requiring all users to state their actual height (AH) instead of dream height (DH) on profiles. 

The verification process is simple: All users will have to upload a screenshot of them standing next to any commercial building. Tinder will then verify it (it’s a little known fact that Tinder keeps a database with exact heights of all buildings in existence), and make sure it matches your input height. 

Image: Tinder

The new feature has been announced on March 29, which is just one day before March 30,  which is just one day before March 31, which is just one day before April 1 AKA April Fools’ Day. Tinder says that HVB is coming “soon” to a phone near you. We’ll believe it when we see it. 

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Tinder has nothing on this mobile game about dating literal demons from hell

When Tinder isn't sinful enough for your taste.
When Tinder isn’t sinful enough for your taste.
Image: Tapas Media / Palmstorm

Online dating is hell, but the new webcomic-inspired mobile game Demon House of Dates makes this sentiment literal. And actually, it’s a better time than most of your nightmare Tinder hookups.

Released Thursday, the visual novel dating sim is a demonic Tinder experience (but, like, in the cute way instead of the #TooReal way). Created in collaboration with Tapas Media and Palmstorm, it brings artist Joanne Kwan’s popular Demon House webcomic to life. And Mashable got exclusive early access to play around with the demo that’s steamy in that deathless prince of darkness kind of way.  

On Sinder (get it?) you, a mere mortal looking for love in the legitimate worst place, can choose between several different demons whose profiles vary from the fun and flirty one-night stand to the long-walks-on-the-beach type.

As someone who in real life was given the moniker of “Satan’s girlfriend” by a college professor, I felt particularly suited for this Luciferian spin on dating apps. I’m pretty convinced I’d have a much easier time with online dating if my location radius could include the fiery abyss below rather than just the aboveground cesspool of Los Angeles my Tinder is currently limited to.

The fallability of emoji communication still applies to demons!

The fallability of emoji communication still applies to demons!

Image: TAPAS MEDIA / PALMSTORM

LA can keep its alleged angels (AKA aspiring actor/model/director/models, 22-year-old “entrepreneurs,” and the dreaded social media influencer). I’m way more at home in a city of bangable Beelzebubs. 

Swiping through pics of beautifully rendered sexy Satan spawns, it’s striking what a splash of the devil can do to your eye-rollingly standard online dating profile.  One very #LiveLoveLaugh demon named Velgranok finished his bio by saying he was, “happy to come indoors and sit in a nice fire.”

You’ve got seven days to seal the deal with your soul-eating mate

Hot. Same.

After swiping right on the lovely demon of your dreams, you have a brief convo over the “mad chatter” app. It’s another one of those achingly familiar and mundane exchanges too, where you both pretend to be too cool for online dating. 

When you meet up, you can choose whether the IRL spawn of Satan lives up to his/her/their online persona or not. Each demon I matched with proved to not only be devilishly good looking, but also intriguingly gender fluid. From what I could tell, the dialogue makes no assumption about your gender or your magical bae’s, either. Hell yeah.

Then you’ve got seven days to seal the deal with your soul-eating mate. You interact by choosing from a few dozen situations, represented as emoji that range from the universally understood eggplant to that deranged drunk face no one knows what to do with. 

Joanne Kwan certainly knows how to illustrate some steamy demons.

Joanne Kwan certainly knows how to illustrate some steamy demons.

Image: TAPAS MEDIA / PALMSTORM

Your location (for now only cafe, university, beach, and home are available — but a promised update will add a club, cinema, and park), initiates a variety of different situations that end by either filling more of your romance meter or sending it down to the fiery depths from whence it came.

And it turns out that the true horror of dating a demon is that it’s usually just as banal as your typical, garden-variety subpar online date.

The true horror of dating a demon is that it’s usually just as banal as your typical, garden-variety subpar online date.

In its current form, Demon House of Dates has far too little dialogue options, choices, and branching paths, often repeating exchanges and not doing much to tailor dates to your preferred demon bae’s personality. Once you’ve gone through even just two beaus, it feels like you’ve seen most of the potential interactions apart from a few hidden ones. Representing activities through emoji is clever, but often fails to communicate to the player what they’ve actually signed up for. 

If we’re being generous, you can see this as some clever meta commentary on the monotony of online dating, which tends to feel like you’re caught in a loop of the same bad date with a few superficial differences. And the unintended outcomes of choosing the wrong emoji — well, isn’t that a perfect metaphor for the failures of digital communication?

If we’re being real, though, it’s more likely that these are design flaws rather than intentional social commentary. 

The somewhat shoddy and incomplete design is not helped by the fact that annoying ads pop up frequently. You not only have to sit through 30-second commercials, but also navigate the typical manipulative Free-to-Play ad tactics, like making the “x” to close out hard to see. 

Tbh, all online dating is basically sinning for seven days.

Tbh, all online dating is basically sinning for seven days.

Image: TAPAS MEDIA / PALMSTORM

To be fair, it’s a free game, and you’ve got to pay for the labor that went into making it somehow. But the $2.99 ad-free price point doesn’t seem to be wholly justified by the amount of content and playtime currently offered. Mashable was told that one other location would be made available about a week after launch, with a variety of other locations coming after that.

That’s not to say Demon House of Dates isn’t a great concept with lots of worthwhile funny moments. But after enjoying your first playthrough, you might prefer waiting for the updates. Though it’s also possible that fans of the webcomics will be more than satisfied with just getting an interactive version of the truly rad and wild world Kwan has created.

My love life simply felt cursed.

However the biggest irony of Demon House of Dates is that, to my knowledge, you can’t really win. Or tellingly, maybe I just personally had zero ability to figure out how to play the game in a way that ended successfully with my demonic dates.

I tried every combination of emoji and locations, desperate to play my cards right to bang my significant other (or perhaps in this case, SO should stand for “Satanic offspring”). But even clicking on the heart emoji often resulted in a negative outcome. Eggplant didn’t even get me any peach emoji!

My love life simply felt cursed. And that’s when shit started feeling way too real. 

Because listen, I’m actually totes chill with a date on the beach ending with my demonic lover extracting milk from a mermaid’s teat for me to drink. But hell hath no wrath like an online date scorned.

Why not add mermaid milking to the table?

Why not add mermaid milking to the table?

Image: TAPAS MEDIA / PALMSTORM

And lemme tell you, getting broken up with by multiple spawns of legit hell is humbling. I always liked the bad boys, but if you play with fire I guess you’re bound to get burned. Like, third degree from an eternal flame of darkness that sets your soul ablaze kind of burn. 

You thought ghosting was bad? Try having your date despise you so much that they disappear in a cloud of sulfuric black smoke, preferring to be caught dead in an inferno of unending nightmares rather than hang out with you for even one more day. 

It just stings, you know? And not in the sexy demon horn kinda way. 

You can download Joanne Kwan’s Demon House of Dates for free in the App Store or Google Play.

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