Tinder emerged onto the scene 12 years ago and disrupted online dating forever with the swipe. Now the company’s new CEO says it’s time for another shift—and she wants to make sure Tinder is once again at the forefront.
“We’re due for another kind of category shift and change,” says Faye Iosotaluno, who was named chief executive on January 9. “Because we are the largest dating app in the world, we’re in a prime position to make that change happen.”
Iosotaluno had been serving as Tinder’s COO since August 2022 after spending five years at parent company Match Group, where she had served as chief strategy officer. Her positioning at the top comes as the company continues turnaround efforts in an attempt to gain new paying users.
“I’ve seen firsthand Faye’s remarkable ability to align our team, refine our strategy, drive execution, and deliver momentum,” Match Group CEO Bernard Kim said in a memo to employees announcing the appointment last month.
Match Group, and Tinder specifically, has had a rough time as the pandemic has waned. In the fourth quarter of 2023, Tinder’s paying users declined 8% from the same quarter in 2022 to 10 million. It marked the fifth consecutive quarter of declines. The company estimated that it was largely due to an increase in subscription prices, but said it expected that it’ll have a stronger payer base going forward.
To be sure, Tinder—and Match Group at large—still has some tough waters to navigate. Activist investor Elliott Investment Management has also reportedly built a roughly $1 billion stake in Match Group and has plans to push the company to improve its performance. Citi analyst Ygal Arounian said in a research note that it isn’t clear what measures the firm could take to address those problems, Barron’s reported.
In an effort to gain users, Kim has been pushing Tinder to innovate and ship products at a faster pace since he took over. He implemented a leadership shakeup in August 2022, announcing that then-CEO Renate Nyborg would be leaving the company; Kim stepped in as interim CEO as the company put together a plan to drive growth.
Tinder has successfully rolled out a number of products under Kim’s leadership. And it still continues to be the largest dating app.
Just think of Tinder’s massive scale. Available in 190 countries, it’s been downloaded more than 530 million times since it launched and has facilitated more than 75 billion matches. That type of power around the globe can roll out tech pretty easily to tens of millions of users—although right now the bulk of Tinder users are using the app for free. Tinder, like most dating apps, runs on a “freemium” model, meaning it offers the service free but charges users for access to premium features.
Gen Zers (people born from 1997 to 2012) have also started to make up Tinder’s largest user base. “We need to deeply understand how their needs are changing, how their interaction models are changing, and bring that into our experience and make sure that we’re offering something that still helps them find real connection,” Iosotaluno says, adding, “that’s a huge opportunity that Tinder has that no one else does.”
The other massive influence is going to be artificial intelligence. AI is already pretty widely used among dating apps, helping power algorithms and some trust and safety operations. But now Tinder can take in even more signals to get a better sense behind the scenes to ensure users are seeing people they will be interested in romantically. In terms of front-facing work, Tinder is able to use AI to help users pick out which photos in their camera rolls would work best for their profiles.
“We have a huge role to play in making that even better, but in a very authentic way,” Iosotaluno says. Match Group said in its earnings report that it expects many of its AI-driven features to debut over the course of 2024.