It was about time Tinder right-swiped a college campus. Two weeks ago, following their first (!) career fair appearance ever, the startup Tinder came to Caltech for a networking event. Tinder’s lead recruiter met up with a few Techers the week before the event andplastered the undergraduate houses with posters advertising the event.
It was super effective!
I’ve been to a few tech talks by CS companies since the career fair in mid-October. The Google tech talk pulled over 200 students, while another info session I went to pulled three. Tinder had an awesome turnout, probably due to the publicity, the promise of free food, and the familiarity that Techers had with their product.
About that familiarity…
Tinder’s lead recruiter told the group at the event that, while Techers at the career fair had told her they were familiar with the app, most people she talked to didn’t have it on their phones. She whipped out her phone and showed us how she used it: she set her bio to "just here for friends," and lowered her search radius down to one mile when she was at conferences, networking events, even career fairs to contact and meet up with new people in a new place.
It turns out that that day, Tinder had released a huge update: Tinder Plus, a paid service with features including "Passport," where users can set their location to anywhere. The first thing that popped into my head: prefrosh could use it to meet and talk to current students before prefrosh weekend! By lowering your distance to one mile, prefrosh could even use Tinder at Frosh Camp (our orientation weekend in Ventura Beach), which could make meeting new friends and potential roommates even easier.
At the event, we had a Q&A with a group of Tinder’s software engineers, their VP of Security, their CTO, and their VP of product. We asked them questions about a variety of subjects from their culture to their technology choices.One of the most interesting (and telling) answers about their culture came from VP of Product Jonathan Badeen. Badeen was asked why Tinder had chosen to work in West Hollywood, instead of in the Bay area (where arguably every other app startup is based). He answered that San Fransisco’s tech scene is overhyped, that it’s a place where"people bend over backwards for technology, not the other way around."
This week, I had the opportunity to ask Tinder’s President, Sean Rad, a few questions. Based on the rollout of Tinder Plus, as well as the emphasis that Tinder’s VP of Product and lead recruiter put on Tinder’s use beyond dating, I figured that Tinder’s leaders have some changes in mind for their product. I wanted to ask him about his vision for the future of the company.
1. Why did you guys choose Caltech for your first career fair appearance and first on-campus event?
As Tinder keeps growing, we’re faced with complicated problems that require the attention of talented engineers and thinkers. We trust and turn to Caltech for this talent given that some of Tinder’s most talented engineers went there. It’s a relationship we want to grow and foster.
2. Is there anything people don’t know about the Tinder app that you think college students should know?
The last decade of social has been about defining our friend graph and improving the ways we communicate with our friends. While we’ve innovated on how we connect with people we know, the ways we meet new people have remained outdated. We believe the next decade of social will be about solving problems around how we make and deepen new connections. Tinder plans to lead the charge here. We want to break down the social, psychological, and physical barriers to meeting new people.
3. What has been the best idea that you’ve come up with for Tinder? (feature, marketing method, hiring move, etc.)
The "double opt in" which is the idea that only those who share a mutual interest in knowing me can communicate with me. This puts our users fully in control of their experience.
4. Do you still consider Tinder to be a startup?
While Tinder has been validated to some extent, there are still a long list of challenges ahead of us. So yes, we’re still a startup. Even though we’ve experienced a level of success that is once in a decade, we constantly remind ourselves how we have only accomplished 1% of our vision and can lose it all if we let down our guards. There is so much left to do and we need your help!
Tinder is currently hiring! If you’re interested in an internship or a full-time position, contact Tinder’s lead recruiter Alexandra Dworsky firstname.lastname@example.org.