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Match CEO: 'We’re going to see the biggest cuffing season ever'

·West Coast Correspondent
·3 min read

Americans are emerging from the pandemic eager to reconnect with friends and family — and strangers.

That last part is great news for dating apps.

And while the summer is generally a time for casual dating, Match (MTCH) CEO Hesam Hosseini thinks the fall of 2021 looks to be particularly auspicious for more serious relationships to blossom. 

"Our role is really to help you find the one, find a meaningful connection," Hosseini said in an interview with Yahoo Finance (video above). "We are actually doubling down on that. You know, this summer is a mixed bag. We actually predict that come the fall we’re going to see the biggest cuffing season ever."

"Cuffing season" — defined as the time of year when "single people begin looking for short term partnerships to pass the colder months of the year" — was challenged by society largely shuttering in 2020, and Match sees pent up demand for people looking to make deeper connections.

"It's been an interesting year... to be single," Hosseini said. "For some, the pandemic was really a moment of reflection. As they’re getting back out and starting to date, they are looking for something meaningful. For others, it was a year with frankly a lack of intimacy and they’re looking for something more fun and more casual dating this summer."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 29: A couple sits at an outdoor restaurant on Memorial Day weekend on May 29, 2021 in New York City. On May 19, 2021 all pandemic restrictions, including mask mandates, social distancing guidelines, venue capacities and restaurant curfews were lifted by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
A couple sits at an outdoor restaurant on Memorial Day weekend on May 29, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Hosseini, who has been part of the Match ecosystem since August 2008, said he hasn't seen the company "provide such an essential service as it has in the last year." Amid the pandemic, Match added several video chatting and other COVID-specific features.

"At the peak of the pandemic, when folks were hesitant and still wanted to get out but not sure how to stay safe, we launched a feature allowing them to disclose dating preferences like... 'Are you still wearing a mask? Are you distancing? Is a hug hello okay?" he explained, adding that the features allowed users to get "that awkward COVID talk out of the way."

Match will soon provide U.S. users the ability to display "vaccinated badges" on their profiles. And in partnership with the White House, the dating juggernaut is offering free "Super Likes" and other boosts for users who say they are vaccinated. The campaign will last until July 4, which President Biden set as the deadline to have 70% of Americans fully or partially vaccinated.

As of June 4, 63% of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccination, according to CDC's COVID-19 tracker. The Biden administration, along with companies in the private sector, have been trying to incentivize more Americans to get vaccinated with everything from free donuts and beer to childcare.  

(Source: Apptopia/Yahoo Finance)
(Source: Apptopia/Yahoo Finance)

"At Match specifically, we saw a double-digit bump in user engagement when the pandemic first started," Hosseini said. "And in the last few months, as the country has opened up, we have seen an additional double-digit bump in stats like messaging on our platform."

The company reported a better-than-expected first-quarter, with revenue increasing 23% year-over-year, reaching $668 million. Tinder, the app perhaps most closely associated with hookups in the Match Group portfolio, saw 18% growth and non-Tinder brands, posted a growth rate of 30%, the highest seen since the company's IPO in 2015. Match competitor Bumble (BMBL) also smashed revenue expectations in the first quarter, turning a profit for the first time.

The reopening and resulting increase in social connection and dating — both online and in-person — are strong tailwinds for those in the business of love.

"Match is built for meaningful relationships," Hosseini said. "And for those that are looking for that, we're here. If you want to get out there and date casually this summer, that's totally cool with us. Just come to us in three months when you're ready [for cuffing season]."

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s West Coast correspondent. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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