Justin McLeod knows a thing or two about having a relationship that goes on and off all the time. First, in 2011, he made the dating app Hinge. Then, after a few bad years, he decided to start over in 2015 and make the app even better. 2016 was another time. Finally, in 2019, it was big enough to be bought by Match Group. This was the last time.
We talked to McLeod about how he built Hinge and some of our favourite questions that we came up with.
The pandemic has changed how people date.
If I had to guess, I think it’s sped up some trends that were already taking place in dating. So one of them was going online to find a new partner, right? And the move to apps. We also saw a lot of growth during the pandemic. People, I think, also became more thoughtful and dated with a lot of thought. The pandemic made a lot of people think about what was important in their lives and what they didn’t. Then, people became more intentional with their relationships, which made Hinge a good choice for people to use.
People also want to be more sure before meeting someone in person. When people used to meet people in person, they used things like audio and video to get to know each other before they went on a real date.
Why do you think the audio prompts Hinge added in October were so well-liked?
People thought it was great, but I don’t think we thought it would be as big as it was. That was a good surprise.
The more vulnerable and open people are, the better it is for them to be that way. Even so, people are afraid to share too much information or be too vulnerable when it comes to dating. So it’s about finding that sweet spot where you give people enough information so they can get a sense of who you are, but not so much that they don’t want to do it. Getting people to record videos for their profile can sometimes feel like a big deal to them. That’s why it seems like audio is the best way to get the best of both worlds.
What do dating apps have to do to keep their users’ private information safe?
As you can see, privacy is very important to us, and we have to make sure that we keep all of our users’ data safe. As long as people have talked about their dating lives, people will talk about their dating lives. But, of course, it’s hard. The next step isn’t clear to me.
There are a few things we want you to do. It’s possible that you know some of these. My first mantra is…
Hire people who care.
I’ve taken the biggest risk of my life so far.
Flying to Switzerland to ask my college girlfriend to cancel her wedding and move back to the U.S. with me was a tie. Restarting Hinge and starting over was a close second choice.
no matter what, we’re both strange.
My favourite thing to do is ecstatic dance, and you like it, too. Ecstatic dance is my favourite thing. I think that’s the weirdest thing about me.
Ecstatic dancing? Wait, what is that, and how does it work?
It’s like making a full body move. What comes through you rather than a pre-planned dance.
In Hinge, what is your favourite question?
Old but good: Two truths and one lie. There is a lot of room for you to be creative and show off a big part of your personality. Besides, it’s very good at getting people to start talking.