Dating Data: An Overview of the Algorithm

Dating Data: An Overview of the Algorithm

I’ve downloaded and deleted Hinge every few months since , and decided to run the data on my most recent download to see how things were going. I did not go on any dates with anyone new due to the pandemic, but I did chat with a few.

What is Online Dating?

Online dating is algorithmic matchmaking. Most apps ask you a series of questions or require you to list preferences, the answers of which are assessed by an algorithm and used to pair you to potential partners. It’s really a gamification of connection with others. There are a host of issues that can accompany use (such as safety, objectification, superficiality, etc.) but there are also benefits.

The apps also assume that ‘love’ is quantifiable, to an extent. Love has patterns, and these algorithms take advantage of those patterns to recommend compatible partners across the network.

And it’s a BUSINESS. Revenue was almost $1B in the U.S. in 2019, and is expected to be $1.1B in 2024. The number of users is expected to grow by 5M, up to 35.4M, over the same timeframe.

Match Group, the online dating conglomerate, owns Hinge, Tinder, Match, OkCupid, PlentyofFish, and many more. They recently separated from IAC, the details of which are outside the scope of this article and doesn’t impact the apps noticeably.

The apps seem to be doing well. Most of them rely on a freemium model, in which the core features of the app are free, but premium features are offered on either a subscription or a one-time purchase basis. Tinder is definitely the biggest focus of Match Group, with a 123% 5Y Revenue CAGR, but the company has also invested substantially in Hinge.

The pandemic has driven a lot of users to the apps, as the more traditional way of meeting someone (the bars, the gyms, etc.) are closed down. People are also paying for more match opportunities, as shown by the growth in Average Revenue per User to $0.60.

Hinge has grown its user base 10x over the past three years, with a +60% increase in ARPU year-over-year, showing that users are more willing to pay for matches.

What is Hinge?

Hinge was launched in 2012 and has grown to be a popular app for the relationship-minded, particularly among the millennial and younger generation. Hinge is a mobile-only experience and employs a freemium model. Hinge focuses on users with a higher level of intent to enter into a relationship and its product is designed to reinforce that approach.

From a user perspective, Hinge is kind of like Tinder, but less aggressive. It’s the “app that is designed to be deleted” and you have to like someone back before they can message you. You answer 3 questions of your choice that others see, and upload 6 pictures of yourself, like above.

  1. They initiate the conversation by ‘liking’ either an answer to one of the questions or one of your pictures

You can also set ‘dealbreakers’. For example, if you are looking for a person who might follow a certain religion or doesn’t drink, you can set it as such.

The Gale-Shapley Algorithm

Hinge uses the Gale-Shapley algorithm that pairs people “who are likely to mutually like one another”. It measures this based off your engagement and who engages with you, as well as matches you to people with similar preferences.

The dating market is two-sided: one person seeks out another, with the platform serving to enable interaction. It broadly relies on network effects: the larger the pool the app the pulls from, the higher probability of finding a person that meets preferences.

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