(Bloomberg) — Tinder, the mobile dating application startup controlled by IAC/InterActiveCorp, is taking a page from Snapchat Inc. to keep users engaged.
The Los Angeles-based company is adding Moments, a feature that lets users share annotated pictures with their matches, who can respond via chat. Like photos sent through Snapchat — another Los Angeles startup whose app sends disappearing photos — Tinder’s Moments will be fleeting, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Sean Rad said.
“Pictures will disappear within 24 hours,” he said in an interview at the company’s office. With the new tool, Tinder wants “to help users to get to know their matches better.”
Tinder is built on a user’s Facebook Inc. credentials and makes recommendations based on information on the social network. People build profiles for free choosing pictures from their Facebook page, and can write a few lines about themselves and set a distance range for potential dates. Users swipe through suggested matches on their smartphone screens, and those who like each other can pursue a chat or date. The app registers 800 million swipes a day and matches 10 million people, Rad said.
With Moments, Tinder’s user base could grow beyond that of traditional dating websites, whose success has been limited by the fact that customers leave when they find a match, said Josh Stein, a partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park, California.
“With the swipe feature, Tinder tapped into how people in their 20s want to interact,” Stein said. “Tinder might end up competing with Snapchat or Facebook.”
Rad, 28, developed Tinder two years ago during a hackathon at IAC’s Hatch Lab in Los Angeles, while he was working at Adly Inc., a digital platform that helps brands connect with consumers through celebrity endorsements. He co-founded Tinder with Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen.
Rad built it on Facebook’s platform so that its algorithm can detect common friends and interests and suggest dates based on those signals, he said. Tinder, which New York-based parent IAC earlier this year said was in “investment mode” and was bringing down its earnings without contributing to sales growth, may someday make its app available outside Facebook’s reach, Rad said.
“We are thinking to change that to penetrate parts of the world where Facebook is not as popular as local social media, such as Russia and China,” he said. He also said the company may charge for premium services, without giving a possible timeline.
Brian Warren, an alpine guide in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said he finds Tinder “convenient and addictive,” and he is ready to pay for it.
“For me, Tinder is more an integration tool when I travel than a dating app,” said Warren, 32, who travels seven months a year to guide mountaineering adventures from Norway to Russia.
As it considers ways to make money, Tinder might take a page from its sister online-dating companies. Match.com, which was started in 1995 and started its first mobile app in 2009, lets users search and select dates based on the profiles of other subscribers, who pay $20 a month on average for the service. OKCupid, which was started in 2003, lets users access the service for free and charges an average of $10 for some extra services, such as message filters.
Match Group, which also includes fitness app DailyBurn and education tool Tutor.com, last year generated sales of $788 million, about a quarter of its parent company’s revenue.
“The search for a companion is the most important search of your life,” Match CEO Sam Yagan said in a separate interview. “People will pay for it.”