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Tinder swipes left on metaverse plans

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

August 3, 2022 | 4 min read

The dating app is reassessing its ambitions for the metaverse amid disappointing earnings in Q2. The company’s CEO is also stepping down.

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Tinder is putting its metaverse plans on hold. (Credit: Adobe Stock)

Online dating giant Match Group has announced that Tinder will be reconsidering its plans for the metaverse in the wake of low earnings last quarter. Tinder chief executive Renate Nyborg — who became Tinder’s first female CEO less than a year ago — will also be stepping leaving her position.

Last year, Match Group unveiled plans for Tinder’s “Single Town,” described in a Q3 2021 investors letter as “a live virtual world… in which singles, represented by their avatars, can move around, and engage with others by audio in various virtual locations.” The company said at the time that its new virtual experience would “[provide] a glimpse into how metaverse experiences could be applicable to dating.”

“Single Town” — envisioned as being part of Tinder’s broader metaverse strategy, called the “Tinderverse” — was being developed in collaboration with a South Korean company called Hyperconnect, which Tinder acquired last year.

Those plans have now been put on hold. In its Q2 earnings report, published yesterday, Match Group reported a $10mn operating loss “relating to the Hyperconnect acquisition.” As a result, the company said that it would be scaling back Tinder’s metaverse ambitions for the time being. “I believe a metaverse dating experience is important to capture the next generation of users, and Hyperconnect has been innovating in this area,” Match Group chief executive Bernard Kim wrote in the earnings report. “However, given uncertainty about the ultimate contours of the metaverse and what will or won’t work, as well as the more challenging operating environment, I’ve instructed the Hyperconnect team to iterate but not invest heavily in metaverse at this time.”

Kim added that Match Group would "continue to evaluate this space carefully, and we will consider moving forward at the appropriate time when we have more clarity on the overall opportunity and feel we have a service that is well-positioned to succeed.”

Match Group is also (at least temporarily) ditching plans for the rollout of Tinder Coins, a virtual in-app currency that had been proposed as a means of incentivizing user activity on Tinder. “After seeing mixed results from testing Tinder Coins, we’ve decided to take a step back and re-examine that initiative so that it can more effectively contribute to Tinder’s revenue,” Kim wrote. “We also intend to do more thinking about virtual goods to ensure that they can be a real driver for Tinder’s next leg of growth and help us unlock the untapped power users on the platform.”

The news from Match Group is a reminder that the “metaverse” remains a vaguely-defined term and a technology that's largely unborn. Many companies, like Tinder, have introduced plans to launch activations in the metaverse, though it’s far from clear at this point what sorts of virtual experiences will be popular and which will be duds. The ecosystem is largely a testing ground at the moment.

For more, sign up for The Drum’s Inside the Metaverse weekly newsletter here.

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