It’s no secret that geolocation-based dating app Tinder has become the buzziest in what is estimated to be the $2 billion-plus “local mobile personals” industry, but how does it turn that momentum into tangible revenue? Onstage at Street Fight Summit West 2014 in San Francisco Tuesday, Tinder co-founder and VP of Product Jonathan Badeen (self-identified as the guy who invented the “swipe right” action in the app) discussed how the company is viewing its options for monetization and experimenting with expansion beyond helping singles find a love connection.
It’s no coincidence that Badeen shared the stage with Steve Levin, Head of Global Sales at gay dating app Grindr — the latter has already implemented a successful advertising platform, including banner ads, for the company’s 12 million users. While Tinder remains ad-free and is still in its user acquisition stage, Badeen said that the company is considering many advertising possibilities — from Grindr-like ads to freemium features and even an avenue for small businesses to advertise to newly matched couples.
“Right now, third-party integrations are not on the immediate timeline, but they would be at some point,” Badeen explained. “You’ve got local businesses all trying to get the attention of people who are looking to spend money in the local area. It would only make sense to tie them together.”
In addition to monetizing, Badeen said that the company’s team of 27 is also exploring ways to expand the service beyond hooking up singles. One of those avenues is providing services and incentives for couples who have met through Tinder — extending the app’s usefulness and curbing the desire to delete it once a relationship has been found. Badeen also said that he would like to see Tinder open up beyond its dating roots and become a more general platform that helps facilitate meeting new people for all sorts of intentions — not just for a hookup.
“We have the momentum and the name that once we do enter that market, we’ll be able to gain a lot of ground,” Badeen added. “I know I’d like to use it for events myself.”
I’ve said before that in order for Tinder to become the next banner company for mobile trends, it needs to solve the problems that come once the app’s novelty fades. While it’s no surprise that the company is thinking about the ways it can monetize, it will be interesting to see if it can expand beyond the dating industry and become a more general social network.