Tinder: Radically Transforming Romance

Tinder is Everywhere. By RawPixel.com, at Pexels. No Attribution Required

By redefining what it meant to be an online dater, Tinder has redefined our dating culture.


Launched in 2012 as a simple and addictive swipe-based dating app, Tinder quickly changed the way young people date and mate. Tinder has transformed online dating by successfully engaging with the attention economy. Tinder engaged with the idea that “people wish to gain something with as little effort as possible” so successfully that the online dating app transformed the dating world (Halavais, 2013, p.8). Tinder is a location based social search mobile app that has transformed society in terms of the social conventions of dating, extending it beyond the boundaries set by class, location and social groups. It “killed the stigma of online dating by not being about online dating” (Dean, 2017 cited in Glamour, 2017).

The user friendly app has effectively swapped the mundane, time-consuming components of old fashioned dating sites for a fast paced, swipe-right to like app subsequently transforming the online-dating world. Tinder, like the web, increases the amount of information available to a person in terms of potential mating partners, although it does not increase the capacity for consuming that information (Halavais, 2013). Tinder has directly addressed this issue through the simple design and speed at which users can engage with the app.

The user friendly app has effectively swapped the mundane, time-

The (Swiped) Right Couple. By rawpixel.com
At Pexels.com. No Attribution required.

consuming components of old fashioned dating sites for a fast paced, swipe-right to like app subsequently transforming the online-dating world. Tinder, like the web, increases the amount of information available to a person in terms of potential mating partners, although it does not increase the capacity for consuming that information (Halavais, 2013). Tinder has directly addressed this issue through the simple design and speed at which users can engage with the app.



Tinder is a social networking application that focuses on online dating. The scholars Hinton and Hjorth define social networking services as a platform that allows individuals to create a semi public personal profile within a bound system, a service that offers a list of users who they share interests to connect with, and facilitates the communication between users (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013).

Tinder is an online dating application where users set up a profile which is linked to their photos on Facebook, write a short bio, and have the option to also be linked to their Instagram or Spotify.

The app addresses the social and physical barriers of forming new relationships and friendships (Pahwa, 2017).  As a social platform, Tinder has been able to create a context collapse between different social and cultural groups (Boyd, 2002). The app is available in more than 190 countries and 40 languages. Tinder puts its users at “zero distance” (Searls, 2010).

The Reality of the Virtual Bar. By rawpixel.com
At Pexels. No Attribution required.

In June 2011, Sean Rad, Jonathon Badeen, Justin Mateen, Joe Munoz, Whitney Wolfe, and Rhis Glyczynski came up with the idea of Tinder. The group ingeniously developed the simple idea of showing people potential partners and having them swipe right for yes and left for no. The product was developed in Hatch Labs, an incubator and captive fund that was building new mobile businesses, in New York City. The app was launched in September 2012, first targeting college campuses. Initially, 90% of the users were aged between 18yrs and 24yrs, but by 2014 the demographic expanded with only 50% of users within that age bracket (Custem, 2018). By December 2013, Tinder was getting 5 million swipes a day. This rose to over a billion swipes a day in September 2014 (Romano, 2014).

In November 2014, Tinder introduced subscriptions but kept the core of the app free. By 2017, Tinder had expanded to the online platform, past just the mobile device. Today, in 2018, there are over 3.9 million subscribers’ world wide and the app produces 1.2 billion profile views a day, along with 15 million matches.

Video about Dating in the Digital Age

Source: The Economist, YouTube


Tinder is now owned by InterActiveCorp (IAC), an American internet and media company that owns more than 150 brands and products, including Tinder’s competitors such as: OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Pairs and Match.

The simplicity of Tinder’s business model is the key to its success.

Tinder’s Unique Selling Point is the fact that it is able to introduce strangers who are otherwise would not have met. Tinder’s user friendly, straight-forward design caters to the limited attention span that is present in society (Halavais, 2013).

There are 5 key components to Tinder’s design:

  1. Profiles: Users need to create a tinder profile in order to participate on the online dating app. This is by logging in through Facebook. The app has access to the user’s data such as images, friend lists and basic information
  1. Location: Tinder relies on location to suggest different users/profiles to a person based on the user’s interests and locations. This has developed an element of convenience that had previously been missing in the online dating industry.
  1. Swipe: This feature has been instrumental to Tinder’s success. Tinder offers the users a list suggesting potential matches based on location, mutual friends, shared interests. The user can ‘swipe right’ to indicate their interest or ‘swipe left’ to avoid a match.
  1. Match: When both users have swiped right they match. In order for users to chat they need have liked each other. This establishes a mutual interest which creates a perceived safer platform where the users are not going to be rejected.
  1. Super Like: This is a feature that was added at the end of 2015. It notifies users when someone has liked them.

Another progressive feature of Tinder in terms of online dating is the profile creation process. Unlike other online dating services, Tinder did not make the user define what kind of relationship they were looking when they created a profile. This transformative feature simplified the user experience and paved the way for new social attitudes towards online dating.

Tinder Date. By Alex Ruhl. At Shutterstock. All rights reserved.

Tinder was launched in 2012 as an entirely free online dating service. In 2015, Tinder shifted to the Freemium Business Model and began charging users for additional add-ons. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry’s Business Insider article defines The Freemium Business Model as a service in which the majority of users use the product for free while the minority pay. Tinder has 3.8 million paying subscribers (Economist, 2018). It is clear that Tinder has effectively employed this model, Steven Bertoni’s Forbes article lists the company’s 2017 value as three billion dollars reflecting its success.

Tinder’s Business Model effectively divides the app into two parts: Tinder Basic, the networking component, and Tinder Plus, the money making segment.

Tinder Basic relies on the 5 features listed above to continue expanding the network and consumer base. Tinder Basic only permits a limited number of swipes in 12-hour time frames.

Tinder Plus offers features such as:

  • A rewind feature à this enables users to undo a swipe left
  • A ‘passport’ feature à users can connect with users in different locations
  • More than one Super Like per day
  • Unlimited swipes
  • 1 boost every month à which allows you to be one of the top profiles in your area or 30 mins

Tinder has expanded their services and currently offers a third type of subscription: Tinder Gold which is only available to new users. This is Tinder Plus and a ‘Likes You’ feature. This add on displays the likes a user gets in grid format, increasing the rate at which users evaluate and act on their potential matches.

Sponsored Profiles are another interesting component of the Tinder business model. Tinder has partnered with various companies who present an advertisement in the form of a profile. The decision by Tinder to present the ads as an imitation of profiles removes the often intrusive nature of advertisements.


An internet ecology is an organised system where intermingling agents depend on information technologies to influence and support each other in carrying out their operations (Looi, 2001).

An industry is a group of companies that are related based on their primary business activities (Investopedia, 2018). Tinder is a key player in the Dating Services Industry, specifically Online Dating. Online dating has become increasingly popular since match.com in the mid-90’s (Belton, 2018).  Liam Harrison’s IBISWorld Industry Report: Dating Services in Australia predicts that the Australian Dating Services industry will produce $112.3 million dollars in 2018-19. Globally, it is predicted that the Online Dating industry revenue amounts to almost 790 million dollars in 2018 (Statista, 2018).

Tinder’s ability to redefine what it meant to be dating online has positioned the brand as a pioneer within the overall dating industry. By 2010, the Internet had overtaken churches, neighbourhoods, classrooms and offices as a setting in which individuals might meet a partner of the opposite sex (Economist, 2018).

Tinder’s main competitors are other online dating platforms which include eHarmony, Oasis, OkCupid, Bumble, Grindr, Happn, The League, Hinge and Facebook. Bumble is Tinder’s top competitor, founded in 2014 by an ex-Tinder employee Whitney Wolfe. It generates 111% of Tinder’s revenue (Owler, 2018). IAC owns Tinder as well as their key competitors: Match, Matchgroup, Meetic, OkCupid, OurTime.com, Plenty of Fish, and Pairs (IAC, 2018). Sarah Perez’s Tech Crunch article states that IAC are also investing in Tinder’s competitor Hinge.

Louise Matsakis Wired article explains Facebook’s recent decision to extend its services to facilitate online dating establishing it as an emerging competitor. Bumble has responded to Tinder’s presence in the market and developed an app aimed at females, reserving the privilege to make the first move for women. Other competitors like The League have created apps that are more exclusive and filter out potential users to maintain high standards.

Tinder is user dependent. This means that is is supplied by its customer base who present other customers with potential dating options. Essentially, with no users there is no Tinder.



PhD student Rachel Katz notes how: “Once, most people married people who lived within four miles of them. Then we had the internet and all these infinite possibilities for soul mates across the world; it didn’t matter where they were” (Katz, 2018 cited in Belton 2018). For most of human history, the choice of life partner was limited by class, location and parental instruction (Economist, 2018). The slow emergence of online dating departed in 1995 with the launch of Match.com. This service was used predominantly by geeks and gay men, and subsequently online dating was frowned upon.

Tinder has completely altered the way society thinks about online dating and subsequently grown the entire industry. Tinder made it alright to not exactly know what individuals were looking for (Glamour, 2017). Prior to this transformative move, dating sites specialised in the desired level of commitment and time consuming surveys needed to be filled out in order to produce the best possible match.

Today, people live in a ‘distracted present’ and social media technologies have enabled people to interact more conveniently and easily with each other (Lisi, 2013). Tinder facilitates this form of simplified interaction and runs on the idea that individuals want to connect with one and other. Now, online dating is engrained in social norms and considered a way of life thanks to the pivotal development of the Tinder app (Blair, 2017).

Tinder allowed online dating to be primarily about looks and first impressions. This was paired with the rapid development of smartphones and mobile devices. This combination essentially built a virtual bar that is present and accessible to individuals at anytime and anywhere. The development of technology has moved these services from peoples’ computers at home to their mobile phones blurring the line between the public and private realm of online dating.

Tinder has even spread into politics, featuring in the Democratic Campaign ‘Swipe right for Hilary’ further expressing the extent of Tinder’s presence in society (Belton, 2018).


Tinder does not have any specific firm regulating the platform or inspecting the interaction between users. Since Tinder is linked to individual’s Facebook profiles this reduces the need to verify each user’s identity. Despite the safety net created by this profile connection, there is still no way to monitor where fake and spam accounts are created.

The behaviour of Tinder user’s is extremely influenced by the extent of information about them provided on their profile. Although Tinder is connected to the user’s Facebook profile, not all their information, such as their last name, is disclosed. This element of partial anonymity permits rude and vulgar online behaviour that would be more preventable in offline bars. Since the platform is entirely virtual, users maintain power when it comes to meeting their matches.


Offline date. By rawpixel.com. At Pexels. No attribution required.

Tinder maintains a protective stance in terms of their users’ privacy. Although Mortimer’s Independent article contradicts this as she writes about a French Journalist who retrieved 800 pages of information on her from Tinder. This raises concerns about the power of Tinder as it has a bank of information on its users age, gender, interests and places they have lived or been while using the app.


Overall, Tinder has been an influential form of internet transformation. Tinder redefined online dating and has led to the emergence of competitors. Tinder turned the online dating sector into a multimillion dollar industry, simply by asking their users for less and giving them more in terms of options and matches.



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Martha Millett
About Martha Millett 3 Articles
I am a fourth year Arts and Economics student who is majoring in Art History, Marketing and Economics. I love playing tennis

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