Hinge CEO Justin McLeod Launches New Dating Lab 

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Hinge CEO Justin McLeod
Hinge CEO Justin McLeod
Image: Hinge

Justin McLeod, the founder and CEO of dating app Hinge, has delved further into the mechanics of finding people their perfect match: this time, by launching a new dating lab.

Hinge differentiates itself from dating app Tinder, also one of Match Group’s dating apps - namely by helping people get off the app and into relationships. (Tinder on the other hand is always looking for app stickiness, recently by launching its own interactive series Swipe Night to attract younger users.) McLeod’s philosophy is different: he doesn’t use social media himself, and while he wants to provide a way for people to meet via his app, he also wants them to put their phones down and engage face-to-face.

It seems to be working. According to a recent feature in Fast Company, Hinge is growing faster than any other dating app in the U.S., and its fastest-growing demographic is people aged 22 to 26. This jump can be credited in part to Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who met his husband over the app. When that was announced, Hinge saw gay users increase by 30 percent.

McLeod tells Fast Company that Hinge users arrange 200,000 dates a week, translating to a date every three seconds. Plus, three out of four first dates (75 percent) turn into a second date.

This is why he’s building Hinge Lab: he wants to really drill down into the numbers to understand all the ways people are connecting. He’s hired a data scientist and a research team, and will present the information they gather in the form of advice articles. They’ve already gathered some interesting facts: 81% of Hinge users aren’t fully confident they’re putting their best foot forward, and 88% of users are interested in getting some help from Hinge. They’ve also found that 38% of men are not confident in asking someone out, and 43% of women are not confident in assessing compatibility.

Hinge Lab is looking at behavior over the app, but not in the way traditional apps measure. Instead of looking at user engagement, new features are tested for whether or not they lead to more dates.

“We’re making a bet that by being the most effective app, we will win the market in the long-term,” he told Fast Company.

McLeod’s own love story has recently been featured in Amazon’s new series Modern Love, based on the popular New York Times column. While there are some similarities (dating app CEO finds woman of his dreams, they break up, and then miraculously several years later reconnect), McLeod’s story is a bit more complicated. He was battling an addiction when he met his now-wife and partner Kate, and they both decided to part ways. She was living in London and happy with someone new when Justin reached out to her years later, and eventually, they did reconnect and the rest is history.

He is cognizant of addiction as he builds his app. He pointed out the similarities of people spending too much time on social media instead of living their lives, and looks at this as addictive behavior. It’s one of the reasons he stays off of it.

Still, he’s a numbers guy, and the app he’s built is driven by data. It will be interesting to see what Hinge Lab discovers. For more about this dating service, you can read our Hinge app review.