Tinder has 3.8m paying subscribers; a number of its founders and early employees are suing Match on the basis that it had intentionally undervalued the company to avoid making big payouts.Although Tinder has a clear lead, there are competitors in America, such as Bumble, set up by one of Tinder’s founders after leaving the company, and around the world, all seeking to sell themselves on some refinement or other. Users of many dating apps already link to their Facebook accounts to show who they are; a dating app that knew all that Facebook knows would have a powerful edge if it could use it well—and if users did not balk at the idea in a post-Cambridge Analytica world.The benefits are clearest for people whose preferences mean that discovering possible partners is particularly hard, either because of social isolation or physical isolation.
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The bicycle increased young people’s choices immeasurably; so did city life.
But freed from their villages, people faced new difficulties: how to work out who was interested, who was not and who might be, if only they knew you were.
None of the companies are interested in making it clear what secret data sauce—if any—they add to their wares.
Where data are available, mostly through national surveys, sociologists like Mr Thomas have found that online dating by and large leads to better matches—presumably because of the far greater choice of partners it offers.
Yu Wang, the chief executive of Tantan, founded in 2015 and now one of China’s largest dating apps, says the country’s offline dating culture is practically non-existent.
“If you approach someone you don’t know and start flirting, you’re a scoundrel,” he says.The internet is the primary meeting space for same-sex pairings, whether casual or more than casual: 70% of same-sex relationships start online.“This is a very big shift in how people find their partners,” observes Reuben Thomas, a sociologist at the University of New Mexico.In 2013 Tinder, a startup, introduced the masterfully simple idea of showing people potential partners and having them simply swipe right for “yes” and left for “no”; when two people swiped right on each other’s pictures they were put into contact with each other. Such phone-based services are more immediate, more personal and more public than their keyboard-based predecessors.More immediate because instead of being used to plan future encounters, or to chat at a distance, they can be used on the fly to find someone right here, right now.Bars and restaurants have fallen since (see chart).