Tinder Searches For New CEO

Ahead of a major monetization effort, Tinder’s owners are looking for a more mature CEO to run the company. When they do, Sean Rad, the matchmaking app’s 27-year-old founder and current CEO, has agreed to step down.

First reported on Tuesday by Forbes, the decision follows a number of perceived missteps by the young Rad, including a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Tinder co-founder and former executive Whitney Wolfe.

Wolfe accused Rad and co-founder Justin Mateen of subjecting her to “horrendously sexist, racist and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails and text messages,” before firing her. Tinder and parent company IAC reportedly settled the suit in September.

In recent months, Tinder management was already on the hunt for more experienced leadership. In exchange for an unspecified stake in the hookup app, Benchmark recently assigned Matt Cohler, one of its partners, to Tinder’s board of directors.

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Under its Match Group, Barry Diller’s IAC continues to hold a controlling stake in Tinder.

Following his imminent demotion, Rad is expected to assume the title of president, while remaining on Tinder’s board.

Just weeks ago, Tinder revealed plans to turn its popularity into profits, which, to the chagrin of many on Madison Avenue, has little to do with advertising. Rather, the app plans to launch a premium dating service sometime this month. 

Last month, Rad said that the premium service would include new features and capabilities. In particular, paying members should be able to expand searches beyond their immediate hometown or city.

The 2-year-old Tinder quickly emerged as a popular online dating app, particularly among millennials. Its free app now boasts about 1.2 billion profile swipes, per day, along with about 15 millions “matches” -- which occur when two users enter into a text conversation after approving each others’ profiles.

Despite -- or because of -- Barry Diller’s controlling stake in the start-up, Tinder is clearly under pressure to start generating revenue. Last month, the company was reportedly seeking additional financing, which would have valued the start-up somewhere between $750 million and $1 billion.

News of the forthcoming premium service was a blow to brands, many of which have been eying Tinder as a potential platform for reaching young consumers.

Yet, brands could still get their chance to mingle with Tinder users. During an earnings call earlier this year, Diller’s IAC said that Tinder was fertile ground for native advertising.

Some enterprising networks have already taken it upon themselves to test Tinder as a promotional platform. Earlier this year, Fox created a fake profile for the main character of “The Mindy Project,” Mindy Lahiri.

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