Tinder Co-founder Sean Rad dodged a lot of questions on the Disrupt SF stage today, not least of which was the rumor that the hot dating app is raising a round at a valuation north of $750 million from Benchmark. “Rumors,” Rad stated when our MC Jordan Crook pressed him about it. “We haven’t raised any third-party capital and there’s no deal,” he told her.
Crook set the stage earlier, asking the co-founder if he knew what a DTR is; Rad was unfamiliar with the term. “It’s a way to define the relationship,” Crook explained. “I want you to have a DTR with IAC” (Tinder came out of IAC’s Hatch Labs in 2012, and IAC still owns a majority stake in the company). Rad sighed and said, “Tinder is like every other company and you have shareholders and you have controlling groups.
In our case IAC is the major shareholder and everyone has a major stake in Tinder’s success and we are aligned from the board down.” Crook mentioned the rumors that Rad and his team had been meeting with a lot of potential investors “Are you gonna raise money or not…or are you just wasting everybody’s time?” asked Crook. Rad shook his head and said, “We haven’t wasted anybody’s time.”
Crook also wanted to know how Tinder was planning on monetizing. “Uhhhh, you’ll find out,” Rad replied at first then after some cajoling added, “We think this is something that we will do. We have to ask does this help users, would we do this even if it didn’t make us money? We can add value to the user and charge them. A lot of people think there’s a conflict between making money and adding value and there isn’t.”
Rad, however, did not want to name a specific date on which Tinder might monetize. “We’ll get there when we get there.”
Rad did some more skirting around the Justin Mateen and Whitney Wolfe “co-founder” scandal that had plagued the company. Wolfe, an early employee of Tinder, had claimed Mateen sexually harassed her after the two broke up. Mateen is no longer with the company, and Tinder just settled the associated lawsuit.
“How would you define what is a co-founder,” Crook asked Rad. “There are so many definitions of what a cofounder is that therein lies the controversy. Some say it’s those who were there from the beginning. Then others say a co-founder is someone who’s had the largest contributions…My advice would be to be more inclusive. It doesn’t cost more to be inclusive. There are many people along the way who will have that transformative impact and all those people deserve to be recognized,” explained Rad.
Crook then went to the meat of it and asked him where that left Wolfe. “Whitney was hired early on to work on marketing and she did a phenomenal job, particularly to executing strategy on college campuses.”
“Okay thats a bit of a skirt,” Crook pointed out. Rad paused and then added, “It’s factual.”
Rad also revealed that there are now 1.2 billion swipes made and 13 million matches on Tinder on a daily basis.
“What I really want to know is how important is it to have a tiger in your photos?” joked Crook, pulling laughter from the crowd. “I have no idea where people are getting them,” Rad said.