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In the beginning, Justin ran individual campaigns to encourage people to sign up. He targeted what he called social influencers, avoiding the awkward crowd of people probably most in need of a new way to make friends.
Then he hit USC, enlisting the help of his younger brother and sister, who were students there.
Until recently, hookup apps were straightforward but sleazy. I was staying only a mile from Tinder’s offices in West Hollywood, and within forty-eight hours both founders showed up on my Tinder feed. Rad and Mateen have shared business ideas with each other for years, and every idea begins with a problem.
Then along came Tinder, the dating-hookup hybrid that made things simpler, sexier, and particularly lady-friendly. Other memorable appearances on my feed in Los Angeles included a guy holding a koala bear, a guy and his Yorkshire terrier, in matching sweaters, and a pipe-smoking dandy with a Rasputin beard, horn-rimmed glasses, and a gold ring the exact shape and size of a cicada. They both grew up in Beverly Hills, although they attended different private schools. The key to solving the problem that interested Tinder: I noticed that no matter who you are, you feel more comfortable approaching somebody if you know they want you to approach them, says Sean.
He took a cut of sales—the more money the bar made, the bigger his cut.
It was a good little gig until his parents began to bother him about it: We don’t want you to be a party thrower, they said.
He shows me a photo of it from Instagram: a pool in the sunshine, shirtless partygoers, lanterns, an inflatable slide.He wanted the app to catch on with the most difficult group of people—college students too young and socially active to need online dating, people who saw it as a stigmatized practice.He wanted people to join Tinder not because they saw an ad on Facebook but because they recognized its social value.Your matches accrue in a folder, and often that’s the end of the story. The swiping phase is as lulling in its eye-glazing repetition as a casino slot machine, the chatting phase ideal for idle, noncommittal flirting. (His tagline made her laugh.) They had one friend in common, and they both liked Louis C. It makes me look at my external world in a more favorable way, she says. Actually communicating with people is another story. Her two dates both persuaded her to go out by being really solid text conversationalists. They did not end in sex, unlike many of her first dates on Ok Cupid.In terms of popularity, Tinder is a massive and undeniable success. For Katherine, still wary from her bad encounter, Tinder offered another advantage. I do a lot of not responding, which is probably horrible, politenesswise, she says. I’m a social worker, and I talk to people all day, she says. Part of this was simply that expectations are so much lower on Tinder; all you know about the people in your folder is that your advances are welcome.
Some people, used to reading between the lines in such matters, simply assume casual sex. I ask how she makes that clear, and she says she does not respond to messages that arrive at 3 A. She has used the site both in New York, where she lives, and in the Bay Area, where she is from. When she signed on in the Bay, she felt a flood of recognition: These are my people! But how does she distinguish that from people in New York?