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Barry Diller: What Tinder shows us about innovation

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer

It’s been just over three years since Barry Diller’s InterActive Corp (IAC) spun off its portfolio of online dating brands into a separate company, Match Group. And the biggest story for Match continues to be Tinder, the red-hot mobile app that hasn’t yet shown signs of slowing.

Match Group (MTCH) beat expectations on revenue and profit in its Q3 2018 earnings report in November, driven by growth at Tinder, which added 344,000 subscribers. It has 4 million paying members.

Many of those Tinder users are likely unaware that the app was incubated inside IAC, under the same roof as Match.com and OkCupid. As Diller says, Tinder was “house-grown inside one of our companies.”

Speaking to Yahoo Finance editor in chief Andy Serwer for our new “Influencers” series, Diller framed Tinder as an example of pure innovation. The success of the app and its tactile swiping functionality, Diller says, provides a lesson in disrupting yourself before someone else does.

“Like anything, if you don’t believe that there's something to do every day to make your product better or differentiated,” Diller says, “somebody else will.”

In other words: by developing Tinder in-house, IAC disrupted itself before others could.

Diller has also said in the past that Tinder succeeded within IAC because, “We left it alone to the founders.”

Barry Diller on Yahoo Finance's "Influencers" show with Andy Serwer on Jan. 15, 2019.

Tinder, for all its ongoing controversy, typically gets credit for ushering in a new generation of online dating, where young people are more likely to rapidly swipe through potential dates on their mobile phones than to sit down and spend time with a desktop website experience. But Diller says the industry will continue to evolve—dating has been around for generations, and will continue to adapt to new technology.

“The basic nature of it, which is connecting people, has been going on for, shall we say, quite a long time, whether it’s been managed by parents or by states or by churches, or whatever,” says Diller. “But the evolution of it—and it has been evolutionized, so to speak, certainly by Match.com originally, and a few others—it’s going to continue to evolve as technology evolves.”

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance and closely covers the online dating business. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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