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Tinder CEO: Facebook Dating isn’t an ‘obvious fit’

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Tinder CEO Elie Seidman says he isn’t overly concerned about Facebook (FB), which started rolling out its dating service on Thursday, despite the social network’s wide reach and strong potential in the dating market.  

“We think of it [Facebook Dating] as not necessarily an obvious fit, but I think more importantly, obviously, Facebook’s had plenty of its own issues,” Seidman told Yahoo Finance on Thursday at its All Markets Summit in New York City.

Tinder CEO Elie Seidman at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit in New York City in September.

Since it initially announced Facebook Dating in May, Facebook has been clear that its dating service would be for singles seeking “real long-term relationships — not just hook-ups,” as CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained then. According to Seidman, that makes Facebook Dating distinctly different from Tinder. Since Tinder launched nearly six years ago, it has become one of the most popular dating apps in the US, with “tens of millions” of monthly active users. Tinder has also earned a reputation, largely for enabling “hook-ups,” or casual relationships, and inspired the recent HBO documentary, “Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age.” That movie explores how Tinder, and apps like it, unequivocally changed the way younger singles connect with its ease-of-use and addictive swiping features.  

“It [Facebook Dating] will compete with what apps call themselves for more serious intent: the people who are a little bit older, perhaps, and less than what I think of as this single journey and more like, ‘Hey, I want to settle down — I want to settle down right now,” Seidman conceded. “Now that’s a real part of the market.”

The Facebook Dating conundrum

Facebook told Yahoo Finance last week it’s developed a service that’s largely separate from the social network, with separate dating profiles, an independent chat service, and significant privacy settings. However, it’s unclear whether Facebook Dating will take off. Key to Facebook Dating’s longer-term success is educating Facebook users to the fact that their Facebook Dating profiles are independent from their main profiles, typically viewed by friends, families and coworkers.

Indeed, at least some Facebook users are reluctant to associate their dating-related data with the social network. This August, for instance, Coffee Meets Bagel CEO and co-founder Dawoon Kang told Yahoo Finance the dating service witnessed a 378% increase in requests from its users for a different way to log on — besides using Facebook — following the Cambridge Analytica scandal in mid-March. According to Kang, those particular Coffee Meets Bagel users no longer wanted to use Facebook as a way to sign in, or otherwise deleted their Facebook accounts entirely, because of the controversy.

“I think the dating psychology, the dating use case, or how you approach dating is just different than the core of where Facebook [users] spend their time, and so I think honestly, leaving aside all of the additional issues that come from their issues regarding data integrity and privacy, I think you have that issue to begin with,” Seidman also argued. “That’s actually the foundational one. Dating is its own category. It’s different than posting pictures of your pets in their feed or doing one of the things in their group. It’s just a different beast.”  

Whether Facebook Dating slays the dating category or dies a quiet death remains to be seen.  

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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