After 18 months as a free app, the cofounders of Tinder are finally getting serious about making some money from the popular dating service.
Since launching in 2012, the app’s simple format has helped it spread around the world, with Tinder now available in 25 languages. Users swipe right or left on profiles, indicating whether they like or dislike another user. If people right-swipe each other, then it’s a match, and they can mesage. Otherwise, it’s onto the next profile.
Previously, Tinder’s founders have only ever made vague claims about future plans for the app, suggesting its potential to match friends and not just dates. And as for the question of actually making some money, that has gone largely unanswered, until now.
In a new interview with Bloomberg, Barry Diller, chairman of Tinder investors IAC/InterActiveCorp, laid out the three possible ways that the service plans to start making money:
One area of monetization Tinder is considering is the introduction of a recurring fee to use the app. However, this would be a radical departure for the company that has prided itself on embracing all users. In an interview with TechCrunch in November, Tinder cofounder Sean Rad seemingly ruled out the possibility of a subscription-based service, saying “We would never add a pay wall to the core value, we want that to always remain free.”
Tinder is also toying with the idea of including advertisements in its app. While this is likely to infuriate some users, it’s clear to Tinder’s founders that companies want to have a presence on the app, as it has seen many instances of spam and company accounts used to market directly to its users. Paid advertisements could be a smart way for Tinder to clear up its spam problem and start monetizing. However, Tinder’s cofounders have previously insisted that advertisements have no place on the app, telling Forbes that they were instead focusing on bonus paid functionality.
The final, and perhaps most likely, monetization option for Tinder is introducing a “freemium” model to the app. Pioneered by social gaming giant Zynga, freemium pricing involves a suite of free and basic features, alongside more advanced and speedier options for paying users. Since the app has kept to its basic model since launch, there’s certainly room to add in some premium features. In last year’s TechCrunch interview, Tinder cofounder Sean Rad suggested that the app might introduce a charge for users to go back and undo their swipe for a user.
For now at least, Tinder remains free of subscription fees, advertisements and paid bonus features. Get swiping while you still can.
Illustration by Jason Reed