Earlier this year, the Cut called Tinder the dating app that “truly appeals to all genders.” That is not an accident. Hatched in the labs of IAC, the company behind Match.com and OkCupid, Tinder was specifically tailored to appeal to women, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Consider how it tweaked gay hookup app Grindr’s GPS feature: “Tinder takes … Grindr’s location function, which pinpoints eager men down to the foot, and tames it for a female audience, rounding distance to the nearest mile.” (Women prefer to play hard-to-get with online creepers.) Then there’s the mobile aspect. Tinder you can pull up on your phone as you gossip with friends at a bar, while “OkCupid and EHarmony remain sites you browse alone at home, with a fortifying glass of wine and a spreadsheet to track interactions.” Even the name Tinder was selected (changed from the original “Matchbox”), in part because women responded better to it in testing.
Even its apparently male-oriented marketing strategies worked on women too. Like a nightclub stocking the pond with ladies’ happy hours, Tinder was first seeded with the pretty women at party schools like USC and UCLA. “We went after the highly social kids on campus, the people that were looked up to in their peer groups,” founder Justin Mateen told Businessweek. “At first it was challenging — we were going to models, and models were like, ‘I would never use this product.’ And sure enough, a few months later they’re on it, and they’re extremely active.” In my experience (and probably against my better interest), many straight women want to be where the pretty girls are too. Or at least where guys think pretty girls are.