Swiping Right: A Brief History of Tinder

It seems like the concept of swiping right on what we like has been a part of our lexicon for some time. However, as recently as 2012, it was simply an idea, one for an app that mimics the type of flirtation that happens in a bar

But the idea for the app didn’t happen in a bar. Rather, it was born in a startup incubator called Hatch Labs where it was first conceived of by Sean Rad, Jonathan Badeen, Justin Mateen, Joe Munoz, Dinesh Moorjani, and possibly Whitney Wolfe Herd, who later went on to found Bumble. There is controversy around whether she was a Tinder founder or an early employee.

Then, the app hit the App store (available only on iOS) in September of that year. Within the first two months, it showed strong growth potential, and by 2013 it racked up 1 million matches, in large part because of its rising popularity on college campuses. In that same year, Tinder also went international and created an Android version. 

In 2014, the app hit a milestone that dwarfed the million matches achieved in early 2013: one billion matches! That same year also marked the company’s own valuation at 1 billion USD. 2014 was also the year when founder, Sean Rad was ousted, in what he calls “the best thing that ever happened to him.” That year also saw Tinder roll out premium subscription options. 

In 2015, the company began monetizing and acquiring, which they began with the photo-sharing app, Tappy. The next few years saw the company’s income skyrocket, much of which they invested in acquisitions and new features, both paid and unpaid. In 2017, the company was acquired by Match Group, which also owns many other dating sites, including match.com.

In 2019, the app achieved 30 billion matches and its revenue at that time was $1,152 million. During the pandemic, the company found further use by consumers as swiping hit an all-time high. Meanwhile, Tinder introduced new measures to promote safety during the pandemic.Up until recently, U.S. patent law made it possible to get a patent for an abstract idea, so long as it was tied to existing technology. Making it much easier to patent ideas that were quite abstract when it came to the internet.

Today, Tinder continues to be a thriving part of the Match Group, although they face a more crowded field of dating apps than ever before.But in 2014, a court case made these broad kinds of patents more difficult. In the end, this protects against threats to commerce like patent trolls who will patent broad swaths of ideas only to sue budding companies and startups who implement the same ideas. There is some controversy around this crackdown of patenting, and it will be interesting to see how trends in patenting software shape future companies and the legal battles they fight. 

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