One Quarter Journal


Tinder surprises


Justin Mateen


To set sparks flying across the globe with phone app Tinder

If you were using Tinder near its Head Quarters in Los Angeles, California you might swipe long enough to see the profile of Justin Mateen, the busy co-founder and chief marketing officer of the app. It’s hard to hazard a guess as to what Justin’s tagline says, but he’s definitely not short on options. Graduating from the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business in 2008, Mateen proceeded to co-found apps Site Canvas and Cover Canvas before he set fires racing across the globe with Tinder.

Recently described by The Guardian as a natural evolution of the dating scene, Justin and co-founder Sean Rad’s new creation has set sparks flying in the lives of countless users – an estimated 45 million profiles are rated every day. In an age where we are glued to our phones from dawn to dusk this success makes perfect sense – and anybody who has played with the app will attest to how easy it is to fall into a Tinder-Bender.

We were lucky enough to chat to Justin about the vision behind the app, how he got it off the ground and whether he's had any success with it himself!

What were you hoping to achieve with Tinder?

There were plenty of social networks out there that did a good job of connecting you with your current friends, but Tinder is the first social platform that effectively connects you with new people or people you want to get to know better.

Friends have had different experiences meeting people on Tinder, some people think it’s for hook ups only, whereas others have genuine hopes of meeting someone for a relationship. Did you intend either or both when putting Tinder together?

Tinder was never intended to be a hook up app and it is not being used that way by many. In essence, all we are doing is facilitation an introduction between two people that would like to get to know each other better- beyond that it is entirely up to them where they choose to take the connection.

Once you had the concept for the app did it take long to develop the final product?

The first version that was released was more of a prototype, as we started to pick up crazy traction we had to re-architect the entire back end so that we could handle the traffic. The product is not really ever fully complete as we are constantly improving and evolving Tinder so that we continue providing value to our users.

There still seems to be a stigma around online dating but everyone I know is shamelessly using Tinder. It’s cool. Why do you think it has been so successful?

We were able to tap into a demographic that had never used a product like this. As humans we have an innate need and desire to meet people and expand our universe - Tinder does that in a very lightweight way. Even A-list celebrities find Tinder useful because it protects the person who is being pursued. On Tinder, they are not bombarded with messages since they control who they speak to, and as the pursuer of the relationship you know the person on the opposite end is already interested in speaking to you so you start the conversation with a heightened sense of confidence.

This dynamic of a person being pursued and a pursuer exists in every kind of relationship whether it be in the context of friendship, dating, or even business.

Some dating websites attempt to match people based on described personality and values. Conversely, Tinder supports connections based on appearances. I’ve read a few criticisms of this, whereas others believe that it’s just a technological extension of the way people intuitively choose partners. I’m wondering if you get challenged much about this and what your position is?

Tinder is more of a social discovery platform and since we were targeting a new demographic that had been unreachable previously we designed Tinder to emulate human interaction.

When you walk into a coffee shop the first thing that you notice about someone is their physical appearance and you are either drawn to the person or you are not. Once you engage in conversation, you look for commonalities such as mutual friends and shared interests which both help establish trust between two people. Tinder profiles are essentially presented in the same manner except on steroids because before you even engage in conversation you are aware of what you have in common.

Does it work for you? What about the rest of the office?

I use Tinder every day and I have formed both romantic relationships and friendships. It has really become a daily habit for me and for many of our users- on average our users are logging into tinder eleven times per day for an average session time of seven minutes.

Almost everyone at the office uses Tinder, except we have a new policy: You cannot use Tinder during work hours unless it is for testing purposes.

Congratulations for what you have achieved with Tinder - what can we expect next?

Thank you so much for the kind words. You have to stay tuned - all I can say is that we will continue to evolve the product and make the experience of meeting new people more efficient.

We have a big vision for Tinder.

Interviewed by
Alice Bradshaw

Photography by
Vinisha Mulani and Maddi D