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$100.000.000 for Tinder?

Last week Match Group announced their IPO. Probably you’ve never heard of Match Group before, but when I tell you it is the parent of Tinder most of you might know it. With this IPO they’re planning to collect $ 100.000.000,- . It made me wondering how it’s possible that an in essence free dating app can be worth so much.

The first thing I found out is that Match Group, also owner of OKcupid and Match.com, managed quiet well to create revenue. With total revenues of $ 883.300.000,- dollar and a net income of $ 148.400.000 for 2014 they are a big player in the booming market of online dating. For the U.S. the use of dating sites increased the last five years from 2,7 million in 2009 to 5,6 million in 2014 (Datinginsider, 2015). And U.S. has with its 2% “online” citizens active on dating sites a far lower number than Europa, with 15%. According to Egan (2003) the online personal category is one of the most lucrative forms of paid content on the web.

Why is online dating so popular? In their research Ellison et all (2006) have a quite logical answer to that. Mediated matchmaking isn’t something new and overtime the social stigma on online dating was diminished. That combined with only needing an internet connection and the possibility to date within your comfort zone and the affordable cost of internet match making results in low barriers. Another upside from online dating is the possibility to build your own profile and what is seen is that people often present the ideal version of their selves: their profile represents a combination of who they actually are and who they want to be. But, with a possible offline encounter in mind, they also tent to create a reliable presentation of theirselves.

Tinder was a first mover regarding location-based real-time dating (Handel & Shklovski, 2012). According to CEO of Match.com, Sam Yagan, Tinder gives the people what they want: an easier and faster way to meet someone new in real time. “This device is the thing that marries online dating and offline dating…. Mobile dating is one of the few digital products that, when you use it, is designed to lead to a meeting.” (James, 2015). And maybe that is why Tinder became so popular: It is free, easy to use (just link it to your Facebook and you’re online) and it creates a bridge between online and offline. By adding paid features they are able to create revenue. The question is, is it worth another $ 100.000.000 ?

References:

Ellison, N., Heino, R., & Gibbs, J. (2006). Managing impressions online: Self‐presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of ComputerMediated Communication11(2), 415-441.

Handel, M., & Shklovski, I. (2012). Disclosure, Ambiguity and Risk Reduction in RealTime Dating Sites. Proceedings of the 17th ACM international conference on supporting group work. 175-178.

James, J. L. (2015). Mobile Dating in the Digital Age: Computer-Mediated Communication and Relationship Building on Tinder (Doctoral dissertation, Texas State University).

Wells, J. & Armental, M. (2015) ‘Match group files for IPO’, The Wallstreet Journal, 16 October 2015, Available: http://www.wsj.com/articles/match-group-files-for-ipo-1445032992

Unknown author:

Dating Insider (2011) ‘Vijftien procent internetgebruikers gebruikt wel eens datingsite’ 23 December 2011. Available: http://www.datinginsider.nl/vijftien-procent-internetgeruikers-gebruikt-datingsite

Dating Insider (2015) ‘Gebruik van datingsites in de laatste vijf jaar verdubbeld (VS)’ 7 March 2015. Available:http://www.datinginsider.nl/gebruik-van-datingsites-in-de-laatste-vijf-jaar-verdubbeld-vs

Pillory anno 2015

Unless the form is changed over time the concept is been known for centuries: the pillory of a person. When a person did something wrong he or she was punished for that by “the public”. During the Stone Age rocks were thrown, in the Middle Ages rotten food was thrown at people and now, during the “digital era” there is a new way to let people be punished by the public: Social media.

Shaming is a quite new phenomenon, but can have very big impact on both people and companies. Just a little mistake, an inappropriate tweet or post can go viral in a very short time. Most of the time the effects are irreversible and can ruin a person or company totally.

For example the case of Justine Sacco: She was 30 years old, senior director of corporate communications and had only 170 followers on twitter. Right before she boarded for her flight from London Heathrow to Cape Town she tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”. Her tweet went viral and (off course) not in a positive way. While she was asleep, during her flight she became the nr. 1 trending topic on Twitter. When 11 hours later her flight landed the damage was already done.

Her Twitter feed was filled with angry tweets and it went worse and worse.

“In light of @Justine-Sacco disgusting racist tweet, I’m donating to @care today”

“How did @JustineSacco get a PR job?! Her level of racist ignorance belongs on Fox News. #AIDS can affect anyone!”  

“I’m an IAC employee and I don’t want @JustineSacco doing any communications on our behalf ever again. Ever.”

And then one from her employer, IAC, the corporate owner of The Daily Beast, OKCupid and Vimeo: “This is an outrageous, offensive comment. Employee in question currently unreachable on an intl flight.”

Not only were people angry with her and was she target of a crusade against racism, the tone changed overtime into excitement and from there into entertainment.

“All I want for Christmas is to see @JustineSacco’s face when her plane lands and she checks her inbox/voicemail”

“Oh man, @JustineSacco is going to have the most painful phone-turning-on moment ever when her plane lands”

“We are about to watch this @JustineSacco bitch get fired. In REAL time. Before she even KNOWS she’s getting fired.”

In an interview she said: “I had a great career, and I loved my job, and it was taken away from me, and there was a lot of glory in that. Everybody else was very happy about that.”.

Another example was last summer with the killing of lion Cecil. Walter Palmer, the American dentist who paid 50.000 dollar to kill the lion was globally shamed for it. According to Dr. Peter Vasterman, media-sociologist social media are ideal to express indignation. First, because it is a easy to do and can be done immediately. Second the chance is quite big that you’ll find support from others. This has an amplifying effect. And there is a problem with the power of social media. According to Mr. Tempelman, IT attorney most people are hanged by the public before they are even convicted.

Hess & Waller conclude that in these digital times the shaming will increase and that for “ordinary” people there is almost no protection, regardless of the question if this person is guilty or not guilty. I think it is good to think about the consequences of “just sharing or retweeting” that one tweet or post. Like seen above, the impact can be way bigger what might be appropriate.

 

References:

Hess, K. & Waller, L. (2014) ‘The digital pillory: media shaming of ‘ordinary’ people for minor crimes’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural studies, 28,4, pp. 101-111.

Ronson, J. (2015) ‘How one stupid tweet ruined Justine Saccos life’, The New York Times Magazine, 15 February 2015: p. 20

Unknown author:

NOS op 3 (2015) ‘Als prooi overgeleverd aan de social media’ 31 July 2015. Available: http://nos.nl/op3/artikel/2049759-als-prooi-overgeleverd-aan-de-social-media.html