Match Group Buys Rival Dating App Hinge

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This week, Match Group announced it has acquired dating app Hinge. According to the press release, the deal gives Match Group a 51 percent stake in the company. Match first started buying shares in Sept of 2017 and has the option to buy remaining shares of Hinge within the next year.

Hinge has spent the last few years revamping its image and features, creating an app that countered Tinder’s hook-up reputation, and aimed to create a space for more serious daters. This included dumping its initial Tinder-like swiping feature and allowing clients to build profiles more like traditional online dating sites. Interestingly, Match Group (which owns Tinder) initially invested in Hinge in the fall of 2017, soon after it debuted its new design.

Hinge is most popular among “urban, educated millennial women looking for relationships,” according to Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg. It has also grown its user base to “five times what it was a year ago,” according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, making it an attractive purchase for Match Group.

There is speculation that Match Group’s move to acquire Hinge, which markets mostly to female dating app users, is in direct response to their failed deal with female-centric dating app Bumble. After the deal went south, Match Group filed a lawsuit against Bumble for alleged patent and trademark violations, including copying Tinder’s popular swiping feature. Bumble filed its own suit in retaliation, disclosing that it had been talking to Match about a potential acquisition and the company had intended to walk away with Bumble’s proprietary information. Bumble also argued the lawsuit was an attempt to drive down the price.

However, other analysts note that Facebook’s move into the online dating space poses a threat to many competing dating app companies, which further motivated Match Group to acquire more dating apps to strengthen its position in the industry. Adding Hinge to the conglomerate’s portfolio means that Match Group now includes over 40 other dating app brands, including Tinder, OkCupid, Match and PlentyofFish.

“We are positive on the announcement and believe the product fills a critical gap for online daters that want a more serious product than Tinder but more casual product than Match.com,” said Brent Hill, an analyst at Jefferies.

Justin McLeod, CEO of Hinge, said in a statement: "While our prime focus is on creating the most effective dating service for our members, it's now time for us to bring that service to more people in the US and abroad. We're thrilled to have Match Group's support and scaling expertise as we grow."

For more on this service you can read our review of the Hinge dating app.