Tinder, the absurdly popular dating and hookup app used around the world, is now an inescapable and deeply ingrained part of our global culture. Because of that, it can seem like the app has always been here, offering us the chance to swipe right and meet somebody we’ve never met before to potentially have a romantic encounter— or lasting partnership.
But just 10 years ago, Tinder didn’t even exist yet. So how did it rise to become the biggest dating app in the world in less than a decade?
In 2012, Sean Rad was hired by a startup incubator, an organization that helps young startups grow and develop their products. There, he worked with a team to develop a social dating app called Matchbox.
Eventually, MatchBox became Tinder, and the project took on more team members— including Justin Mateen, a childhood friend of Rad’s who had a similar background and also grew up in and around Los Angeles.
Just one year later, Tinder had become one of the top 25 most popular social networking apps based on frequency of use and number of users. Sean Rad was named CEO.
By late 2014, people were swiping on the app over a billion times per day, spending an average of 90 minutes a day on the app resulting in over 12 million matches (two people both swiping right to indicate attraction to each other) every single day.
Not only did Tinder pioneer dating apps, but it also pioneered the most iconic element of them— the ‘swipe’ feature. Swipe right to indicate interest, swipe left to indicate…lack of interest. In fact, Tinder was not only the first dating app to use swiping to move across different content— it was the first notable app of any kind, and it’s a feature that’s now been copied in some of the biggest apps in history.
Rad had run into many controversies while he led Tinder. A lawsuit from a former Tinder executive had accused the company of encouraging an environment of harassment and discrimination. Whitney Wolfe said that at a company party, she had been called a “whore” and that her title was taken away because a female cofounder would make the company seem like “a joke.”
Rad said, “”I wish I had done more in terms of managing what was clearly a complex situation.”
Today, Tinder is focused on a range of initiatives to improve the app. They’ve introduced safety-centric features such as a panic button and anti-catfishing technology, while unveiling plans for a Platinum prescription plan that would give users even greater functionality and features.
Tinder is available in over 40 languages and boasts over 50 million monthly users. Over 8 billion total matches have been made in the 9 years since Tinder’s founding.