'Anti-Tinder' app Hinge releases feature to make online dating more efficient

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent
Hinge says its new feature will help users find their “most compatible” match. Source: Pexels

Online dating can often feel like an endless series of lackluster dates. But what if a dating app could increase your odds of finding somebody you actually connect with?

That’s what dating app Hinge is trying to accomplish with “Most Compatible,” a new, free feature rolling out Wednesday that recommends one highly compatible match every day — a move that comes weeks after Match Group (MTCH) purchased a controlling stake in the app and two months after Facebook (FB) announced a dating feature of its own.

Here’s how it works: Hinge pairs you with another user it thinks you’ll likely connect with, based on algorithms that suss out your previous actions on the app and your interests. So when you log onto Hinge each day, the first match that shows up in the app’s Discover section will be your so-called “Most Compatible” match. 

Hinge will send users one “Most Compatible” match a day. Source: Hinge

Users more likely to go out with ‘most compatible’ matches

Skeptical? You have every right to be, given the glut of dating apps and services promising meaningful connections. But Hinge CEO Justin McLeod claims the app is onto something here. And while Hinge doesn’t disclose how many relationships have resulted from the app’s test run of Most Compatible in Boston and Atlanta, he says that Hinge users are eight times more likely to go on dates with their Most Compatible matches. Translation: Hinge users are more likely to give their Most Compatible matches a shot.  

“Most Compatible is really trying to figure out what type of person you’re most likely to like and also most likely to like you,” McLeod told Yahoo Finance.

Match purchase could help with international expansion

Hinge’s latest feature comes on the heels of Match Group’s purchase of a 51% controlling stake in the app in June. It also comes over a year after the company moved away from the Tinder-like method of having users simply swipe left or right on matches to serving up somewhat deeper profiles with more photos and information about each user. The redesigned Hinge became known as the “anti-Tinder.” That’s a reference to Match Group’s fastest-growing dating app, which has a reputation of enabling hookups, or more casual, short-term connections.

The cash infusion from Match Group’s purchase is key to helping Hinge grow beyond the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia and India. Indeed, McLeod expects Hinge to focus on further international expansion in 2019.

“They [Match Group] have the resources, the know-how, and they’ve done it with their other apps,” McLeod explained of the move. “It just made a lot of sense: if we wanted to bring a throughflow of people into the U.S. and the world, they were the best partner to do that.”

According to the terms of the agreement, Match Group has the right to purchase all the remaining shares of Hinge within the next 11 months or so — a scenario McLeod tells Yahoo Finance is “highly likely” to happen.

Hinge does not disclose how many users it has but claims its user base has grown 400% since October 2016, largely driven by word-of-mouth. But just as Hinge has seen a surge in users, the virtual dating space has also grown more crowded. At Facebook’s F8 conference this May, the social network announced it planned on launching a dating feature of its own later this year on an undisclosed date — news that initially sent Match Group’s stock tumbling nearly 22%. The stock has partly recovered in the weeks since.

For his part, McLeod contends Hinge’s users won’t take a serious hit when Facebook Dating arrives, because 90% of Hinge’s users are between the ages of 23-36 — some of whom use Facebook less than ever before.

“It’s gratifying to have one of the world’s biggest technology companies enter the dating space and draw so much inspiration from Hinge, but we don’t expect our target market to use Facebook for dating,” he added. “They’re increasingly not using Facebook at all, which is why we recently released a way to log in to Hinge without Facebook.”

Be that as it may, Hinge will face stiff challenges as it inevitably branches out internationally into particular markets in parts of Asia, which already have local competitors vying for people’s screentime. But with Match Group’s cash — and potentially more engaging features like Most Compatible — Hinge is better armed to compete, at least.

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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