订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业

社交媒体咄咄逼人,这家约会网站何去何从?

Leigh Gallagher 2018年07月22日

Facebook和Bumble大举进军约会领域,Match集团不得不想尽一切办法,帮助用户找到真爱。

5月初的一天,IAC在曼哈顿由弗兰克·盖瑞设计的公司总部,首席执行官乔伊·莱文跟创始人兼总裁巴里·迪勒,还有其他一些人在会议室里开会。一群人在听取战略计划例行汇报,偶然间提到一些关于广告支持业务。迪勒突然像想起了什么。“提醒我了!”他说。“昨晚谢丽尔给我打电话跟我说,他们要做约会业务,明天就宣布。”

他说的“谢丽尔”当然就是Facebook首席运营官谢丽尔·桑德伯格。而且Facebook确实打算宣布进军在线约会市场,事实上就在同一时刻,Facebook首席执行官马克·扎克伯格正在年度开发者大会F8上宣布该消息。莱文转向房间里的大屏幕,上面实时显示IAC和2015年剥离出去的Match集团股价,两家公司都在跌。“我的手机屏幕一直收到短信,闪个不停,每收到一条短信股价就跌去5%。”莱文回忆说。当天收盘时,Match集团股价暴跌22%,而IAC下跌近18%。

之后,莱文向新来的竞争者发布了一份声明(IAC持有Match集团81%股份):“来啊,水还热着呢。”他还冷幽默了一把,说Facebook的产品“可能有助于改善美俄关系。”媒体显然很吃这套,纷纷引用,但毫无疑问,Facebook进入的消息对Match和整个在线约会行业绝非笑话。

在线约会行业最近消息不断,热闹程度堪比糟糕的在线约会,Facebook宣布的消息只是最新一颗重磅炸弹。仅在过去几个月,市值120亿美元的Match集团对穷追不舍的竞争对手Bumble提起了诉讼,指控其专利侵权及窃取商业机密,Match集团旗下拥有Match.com、OkCupid、Tinder和Plenty of Fish等。Bumble则回复了一封尖刻的信,并提出反诉。这也让两家明争暗斗许久公司矛盾白热化:Bumble创始人惠特尼·沃尔夫·赫德是Tinder联合创始人之一,被迫离开后提出诉讼最终和解,几个月后创立了竞争对手。经历过种种闹腾之后再看Facebook,至少进入市场时表现很专业,还礼貌地打了电话通知。

扎克伯格的声明标志着行业迎来重大转折点,或许对市场领先者Match集团影响尤其大。近年来,利用技术连接世界各地的单身人士的市场一直蓬勃发展,却并未发挥真正的潜力。全球有6亿单身网民,到2020年预计将增加到7亿人,目前业内最大的Match集团估计也仅占10%市场。所以人们可以尽管质疑Facebook是否能让人放心分享感情生活,但毫无疑问,巨头进入市场后将加速普及网络约会,吸引更多用户使用。

虽说大潮来了水涨船高,但行业也可能重新洗牌。如果Match集团仍想保住市场第一的宝座,就得拼命守住地盘。

不过守地盘的任务并不在莱文身上,还是落在1月出任首席执行官的曼迪·金斯伯格肩上,她加入公司已12年,前任格雷格·布拉特曾担任法律总顾问,后来担任IAC首席执行官,后来业务拆分时进入Match集团。金斯伯格现年48岁,自称是“实操型运营官”,非常适合这份工作。她在公司一路升迁,前不久担任公司北美业务首席执行官。她的工作包括帮助Match集团应付Facebook和Bumble之类对手带来的竞争压力,也要控制好目前最火热的Tinder应用。Tinder是2012年上线的滑动交友软件,旋即风靡全世界。与此同时,她还负责推动公司创新,利用人工智能、机器学习等工具探索该行业最核心的业务:即精确预测陌生人之间的匹配程度。

但凡认识金斯伯格的人都表示,她很适合这份工作。2006年她就加入公司,非常了解行业。虽然已婚而且有两个女儿,但她对Match的工作尽职尽责。“我们的工作不只是铺好桌子提供服务。”她表示,“我真心相信我们会深刻影响人们的生活。”聊到我自己的感情生活时,我说刚跟相处五年的男朋友分手,她是唯一一个听到这消息很高兴的人。“太棒了!”她说。我刚要惊讶,她赶紧接着说:“真的挺棒的。我的意思是你可以认识很多有趣的人,很好啊。”

One day in early May, IAC CEO Joey Levin sat in a conference room at the company’s Frank Gehry–designed headquarters in Manhattan, along with Barry Diller, IAC’s founder and chairman, and a few others. The group was listening to one of their colleagues present a routine strategic plan when the executive happened to mention something about an ad-supported business. Suddenly Diller sprang to life. “That reminds me!” he said. “Sheryl called me last night to let me know they’re getting into the dating business, and they’re going to announce it tomorrow.”

“Sheryl” is, of course, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, and Facebook was indeed poised to reveal plans to enter the online dating space—in fact, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was at that very moment making the announcement at F8, the company’s annual developers conference. Levin turned to the huge screen in the room that displays the tickers of IAC and Match Group, the online dating conglomerate it spun off in 2015, where shares of both companies were already dropping. “My phone starts lighting up with texts, and each time I’m getting a text, the stock drops another 5%,” Levin recalls. All told, Match Group stock plunged 22% that day; IAC, almost 18%.

Later, Levin issued a statement addressing his company’s new competitor (IAC owns 81% of Match Group): “Come on in. The water’s warm,” he said, deadpanning that Facebook’s product “could be great for U.S.-Russia relationships.” The media ate up the jab, but there’s no denying that the news was anything but a joke to Match and the rest of the online dating industry.

The Facebook reveal is just the latest bombshell in a business that’s in the midst of more drama than a bad online date. In the past few months alone, Match Group, the $12 billion parent of Match.com, OkCupid, Tinder, and Plenty of Fish, among many others, filed a lawsuit against its white-hot startup challenger, Bumble, for patent infringement and stealing trade secrets. Bumble published an acerbic letter in response and filed its own countersuit. This is on top of the already fraught history between the two companies: Bumble’s founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, was a Tinder cofounder who sued for sexual harassment after being forced out, won a settlement, and a few months later started the competitor. After all of this fracas, the Facebook news was, at least, professional, complete with courtesy call.

But Zuckerberg’s announcement marks a major turning point for the industry—and perhaps most significantly, for market leader Match Group. The market for using technology to connect singletons the world over has flourished in recent years, but its real potential has yet to be unlocked. Globally, there are 600 million singles online—a number that’s expected to jump to 700 million by 2020—yet the industry’s biggest player by far, Match Group, is estimated to claim just 10% of that. So while skeptics have plenty of (valid) questions about whether Facebook can actually persuade people to trust it with their romantic lives, there’s no doubt that the behemoth’s decision to enter the market will go a long way toward legitimizing digital courtship and bringing more of those would-be daters online.

Still, even as a rising tide has the potential to lift all boats, it also tends to roil the water. If Match Group wants to stay No. 1, it will need to defend its turf.

Managing that feat falls not to Levin but to Mandy Ginsberg, the 12-year company vet who took over as CEO in January, replacing Greg Blatt, the onetime general counsel who became chief of IAC before moving to Match Group at the time of the spinoff. Ginsberg, 48, a self-described “hands-on operator” who rose up the ranks and most recently served as CEO of the company’s North American operations, has her work cut out for her. In addition to propelling Match Group over the hurdles thrown up by competitors like Facebook and Bumble, she has to maintain and manage the explosive growth rate of the company’s crown jewel, Tinder, the swiping app that took the world by storm when it was launched in 2012, as well as oversee an ambitious international expansion. All the while, she’ll need to keep the company on the cutting edge of innovation as it strives to use A.I., machine learning, and other tools to get ever closer to this industry’s holy grail: accurately predicting chemistry between two strangers.

Those who know her say Ginsberg is likely to be up to the task. Having joined the company in 2006, she knows the industry inside and out. Though married with two daughters, she takes Match’s mission almost as a personal responsibility. “This isn’t about making, I don’t know, tables,” she says. “I really believe that we are having a profound impact on people’s lives.” When the topic turns to my own relationship status, and I share that I have just split up with my boyfriend of five years, she becomes the first person to actually brighten at hearing the news. “That’s exciting!” she says. When I raise my eyebrows, she continues: “No, it is. The idea that you can go out there now and meet all these interesting people, it’s great.”

Illustration by Gabriel Silveira  

虽然在线约会行业相当热闹,其实规模不大。据IBISWorld统计,去年全行业收入为29亿美元。但其增速很快,据皮尤研究中心数据,2013年到2015年间18-24岁用户使用在线约会平台的人数增加了两倍。

这一行倒是相当赚钱。虽然业内四大巨头FANG(Facebook、亚马逊、Netflix和谷歌)光芒过于强大,没太多人关注Match集团,但去年其股票表现更好,利润率也超过了亚马逊、Netflix 和谷歌。除了市场规模巨大且尚未开发,行业发展也赶上了好时机,包括千禧一代消费能力增强、工作时间长,以及年轻人推迟结婚等。投行Evercore ISI称,到2020年预计行业收入将增长25%。

Match集团旗下有40多个品牌,超过42种语言。其中包括行业始祖Match.com,最受30至50岁找伴侣的用户欢迎;OkCupid要求用户先回答一系列怪怪的破冰问题(“你愿不愿意跟连环杀手睡觉?”、“你是个惹人讨厌的人吗?”),都市时尚人群里用户很多。Plenty of Fish在美国内陆地区很受欢迎;此外还有Tinder,这款创新的约会应用引入了“滑动”玩法,变成现象级产品。

该公司最大的竞争对手包括eHarmony,该公司以擅长广告的创始人尼尔·克拉克·沃伦闻名,主要服务于想找长期伴侣的用户;Spark Networks市值1.35亿美元(股票代码:LOV),旗下拥有Jdate、Christian Mingle和其他一些公司;Badoo声称在全球拥有3.8亿用户,但主要分布在海外;Bumble成立于2014年,是业内增速飞快的新贵,该网站规定只有女性可以开始聊天,男性不可以。对于想要更多、更好也更具体服务的单身人士,还有数百个特殊兴趣网站,从FarmersOnly.com到GlutenFreeSingles再到ClownDating.com(宣传语:“每个人都喜欢小丑……找个小丑来爱你”) 。

FOR ALL THE ATTENTION it garners, online dating is not a large industry—total U.S. revenue last year was $2.9 billion, according to IBISWorld. But it is fastgrowing: Usage of online dating platforms tripled among users ages 18–24 between 2013 and 2015, according to Pew Research Center.

It’s also highly profitable. Though often overlooked for its FANG brethren (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google), Match Group shares outperformed them all last year and has profit margins that are better than the A, N, and G. In addition to a huge and largely untapped market, the industry has strong tailwinds, including increasing millennial spending power, longer work hours, and young people delaying marriage. Industry revenue is expected to grow 25% through 2020, according to Evercore ISI.

Match Group is the conglomerate parent to 40-plus brands in more than 42 languages, including Match.com, the granddaddy of the industry most popular with 30- to 50-year-old relationship-seekers; OkCupid, which took hold among urban hipsters by asking daters to answer a list of quirky ice-breaker questions (“Would you ever sleep with a serial killer?” “Are you annoying?”); Plenty of Fish, popular in the non-coastal U.S.; and Tinder, the revolutionary dating app that gave the world the “swipe” and all that came with it.

The company’s biggest competitors include eHarmony, known for its ads featuring founder Neil Clark Warren and its focus on long-term relationships; Spark Networks, the $135 million publicly traded (ticker symbol: LOV) parent of Jdate, Christian Mingle, and others; Badoo, which claims 380 million users worldwide but is used primarily overseas; and Bumble, the fast-growing upstart created in 2014, which allows only women, not men, to initiate contact. For those singles who want something a bit more, well, specific, there are hundreds of other special-interest sites, from FarmersOnly.com to GlutenFreeSingles to ClownDating.com (slogan: “Everybody loves a clown … let a clown love you”).

这些年来,我也断断续续用过在线约会网站。我跟金斯伯格提过刚分手的前任就是2012年在Match.com网站上认识的。(有趣的是,我还曾跟不只一位,而是两位IAC前任首席财务官在线约会过。)但写这篇文章之前,我还没试过“滑动”交友。

2012年,IAC通过内部孵化器Hatch Labs启动了Tinder项目,这款应用非常简单但很容易上瘾,用户交友信息变成一系列卡片,加入了“滑动”机制,用户可以迅速查看其他人的照片,向左滑动代表“不感兴趣”,向右滑动代表“喜欢”。如果两位用户都向右滑动,就完成匹配,双方可以开始聊天。该功能在技术上叫“双盲选择”,可以减少被拒绝的尴尬,通过滑动操作令交友行为变得迅速而且随时可进行(这点跟登录Match.com体验不一样,至少我感觉是这样,因为要坐在电脑前,登录,然后准备好应付收发一堆邮件)。Tinder将约会变得“游戏化”,所以发展迅猛,尤其受年轻大学生和千禧一代人群喜欢。到2014年,每日滑动超过10亿次,而且变成了文化现象。《牛津英语辞典》都将“向左滑动”和“向右滑动”加入词条。目前Tinder下载量已达2.42亿次。

该应用也是突破性创业来自大公司而非创业公司的少见案例。“很可能是最成功的内部孵化案例。”IAC首席执行官莱文不无吹嘘地说。Tinder还完成了一次商业上的“三连跳”:千禧一代此前并非在线约会主力用户,所以该应用激发了一群全新用户。没有市场推广费用前提下在全球实现病毒性增长,到现在数据都非常可观,2016年到2017年付费用户几乎翻倍。5月初金斯伯格宣布Match一季度财报时,将全年收入预期提升了1亿美元,主要就是因为Tinder发展迅速。

但凡事没那么容易,不管是约会还是现实生活。Tinder增长迅速的同时,也遇到很多麻烦。快速滑动机制,极其依赖照片,再加上目标人群所处年龄阶段自然需求,该应用几乎立刻变成“约炮”神器。虽然并未影响其流行,但对于主打爱情和情侣关系的Match公司来说,如此形象显然不理想。

I’ve been an on-again, off-again user of online dating sites over the years. I met the ex from whom I told Ginsberg I had recently separated on Match.com in 2012. (Fun fact: Over the years, I even went on online dates with not one but two former CFOs of IAC.) But until I started working on this article, I’d never “swiped.”

In 2012, IAC—through an internal incubator, Hatch Labs—launched Tinder, a simple but addictive app that turned dating profiles into a deck of cards with a “swipe” mechanism: Users quickly sort through dater photos, swiping left for “nope,” right for “like.” If both parties swipe right, a match is made, and you can start messaging. This feature—the technical name for it is “double-blind opt in”—eliminates the embarrassment of rejection, and the swiping methodology makes dating something you can do fast and on the go (unlike Match.com, which, at least when I did it, required sitting down at a computer, logging in, and rolling up your sleeves for a long email session). Tinder “gamified” dating, and it took off , especially among college students and millennials. By 2014, it was registering a billion swipes a day and had become a cultural phenomenon: The Oxford English Dictionary even added the terms “swipe left” and “swipe right.” All told, there have been 242 million Tinder downloads.

The app is the rare example of a breakthrough innovation coming not from a startup but from inside a large company. “It’s probably one of the great internal incubations of all time,” boasts IAC CEO Levin. Tinder also nailed a business triple axel: Since millennials weren’t previously big users of online dating sites, it unlocked an entirely new customer group. It grew virally all over the world with almost no marketing expenditure. And even now it’s posting impressive numbers, with paid subscribers nearly doubling from 2016 to 2017. When Ginsberg reported Match’s first-quarter results in early May, the company raised its revenue outlook for the year by $100 million—largely on Tinder’s growth.

But nothing is ever that easy, in dating or in life. And for all its growth, Tinder has also been the source of many problems. Between speed-swiping, the heavy reliance on photos, and perhaps the life stage of its intended demographic, it almost immediately earned a reputation as a hookup app. And while that hasn’t seemed to impact its popularity, it’s not the image Match, a company selling love and relationships, is after.

性骚扰诉讼也对公司形象相当不利。2014年,IAC联合创始人,也是前营销主管的沃尔夫·赫德(当时只有沃尔夫)向Match.com和Tinder提起诉讼,称存在性骚扰和歧视,还提交了Tinder联合创始人贾斯汀·马田发送的丑恶和辱骂信息作为证据,两人曾约会过。公司否认存在不当行为,但Tinder很快停了马田的职(后来辞职)并和解诉讼。另一位联合创始人肖恩·拉德被推举出任首席执行官,6个月后从首席执行官转任董事会主席,最后于去年秋天离开。该事件是个巨大污点,加深了人们对Tinder不适合女性工作的看法。

丑闻发生时和之后一段时间,金斯伯格还不在Match,有两年半时间里她都在负责IAC的Tutor .com和普林斯顿评论相关业务。但她表示Tinder公司文化的问题已经“彻底清除”。“我认为公司文化还是偏年轻,增长又很快,公司里工作经验丰富的人和成熟的员工都不多。”她表示。“现在情况已经变了。”其中一位成熟员工是艾利·赛德曼,他在金融科技和在线旅游领域经验丰富(曾创立旅游网站Oyster.com),2016年金斯伯格聘请金斯伯格负责OkCupid的业务。她出任首席执行官后首先就将赛德曼派去Tinder担任首席执行官。金斯伯格表示,赛德曼是个工程师,“非常聪明”,而且是个连续创业者,他是“全世界最适合当兄弟的那种人”,金斯伯格表示。“真的很难找第二个。”

Nor did a blockbuster harassment suit help matters. In 2014, cofounder and former head of marketing Wolfe Herd (then just Wolfe) filed suit against IAC, Match.com, and Tinder, claiming sexual harassment and discrimination, submitting ugly and abusive messages from Tinder cofounder Justin Mateen to Wolfe Herd—the two had dated—as evidence. The companies denied wrongdoing, but Tinder quickly suspended Mateen (who later resigned) and settled the suit. Sean Rad, also a cofounder, was pushed out as CEO, returned, then six months later went from CEO to chairman before finally exiting the company for good last fall. The incident was a huge black mark and amplified the perception that Tinder was an inhospitable place for women to work.

Ginsberg wasn’t at Match at the time of the scandal and its aftermath—it occurred during a 2½-year stint that she spent running IAC’s Tutor .com and Princeton Review businesses. But she says Tinder’s cultural problems have been “stomped out.” “I think it was a young culture, and it grew really fast, and I don’t think there were as many experienced hires and grownups,” she says. “And now there are.” One of those grownups is Elie Seidman, a fintech and online travel veteran (he founded online travel site Oyster.com) whom Ginsberg had brought in in 2016 to run OkCupid. One of her first moves as CEO was to move him into the CEO role at Tinder. An engineer, “intellectual,” and serial entrepreneur, Seidman, Ginsberg says, is “the last person in the world you think of as a bro,” she says. “I mean, the last.”

Illustration by Gabriel Silveira

但Tinder的麻烦还没结束。性骚扰诉讼和解后没几个月,沃尔夫·赫德推出一款新的约会应用程序Bumble,跟Tinder极为类似,同样采用滑动机制,用户信息卡片设计也差不多,只有一点不一样,即匹配成功后只有女性能主动开始聊天,这点似乎也预示了当前的#MeToo运动。这款产品充分体现了女性权利,品牌采取黄色调,以蜜蜂为主题,而且确实引发了共鸣。运营三年半后,Bumble表示注册用户累计有3400万。其活跃用户中约有10%有付费行为,据说去年该公司收获的会员费已达1亿美元。

Bumble仿佛是大卫,而Match集团是歌利亚巨人(歌利亚是传说中的著名巨人之一,《圣经》中记载,歌利亚是腓力士将军,带兵进攻以色列军队。最后,牧童大卫用投石弹弓打中歌利亚的脑袋,并割下他的首级——译注),不过Bumble也拥有歌利亚一样巨大的靠山。沃尔夫·赫德确实是位很有天赋的企业家,但创立Bumble依靠了安德烈·安德里耶夫的力量,安德里耶夫是在英国的俄罗斯企业家,也是亿万富翁,还曾创立Badoo。两人一起决定创办Bumble,安德里耶夫持有79%股份,沃尔夫持有20%(剩下1%由另外两位员工平分)。Bumble美国总部在奥斯汀,但工程、开发和其他基础业务都由Badoo在伦敦的团队负责。

有几年时间里,Tinder和Bumble各自发展,去年还有报道称两家公司偶尔谈过收购事宜,但最近两家公司关系不太稳定。3月,Match获得了Tinder应用上滑动操作和相关设计的专利,于是起诉Bumble专利侵权且盗窃商业机密。手握专利之后,Match指控Bumble的技术“全盘抄袭了Tinder革新性的,基于滑动操作的双向交友机制”,而且Bumble应用几乎与Tinder一模一样。

BUT THE TINDER SAGA would have lasting impact. A few months after the settlement, Wolfe Herd launched Bumble, a new dating app with features strikingly similar to Tinder’s—swiping methodology, card-stacking design and all—but with a transformative twist that almost seemed to presage the current #MeToo movement: After a match is made, contact must be initiated by the woman. It was a genius stroke of female empowerment wrapped in yellow, bee-themed branding, and it struck a chord: In 3½ years, Bumble says it has amassed 34 million total registered users. Of its active users, roughly 10% are paid; last year the company is said to have pulled in $100 million in subscription revenue.

Bumble may be the David to Match Group’s Goliath, but it has a Goliath-size backer of its own: Wolfe Herd has proved to be a gifted entrepreneur in her own right, but she created Bumble with the help of Andrey Andreev, a London-based Russian billionaire entrepreneur and the founder of Badoo. The two cooked up the idea together, and Andreev owns 79%, Wolfe Herd 20% (the remaining 1% is split between two additional employees). Bumble operates out of Austin, but engineering, development, and other infrastructure is handled by Badoo’s teams in London.

For a few years, Tinder and Bumble coexisted—and were even reported to be in on-and-off acquisition talks last year—but things recently turned testy. In March, Match, which was recently granted patents related to the swipe and the design of the Tinder app, filed its suit against Bumble, accusing it of patent infringement and stealing trade secrets. With patents in hand, it claimed Bumble’s technology “copied Tinder’s world-changing, card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise” and that the app is “virtually identical” to Tinder.

Match提交诉讼四天之后,Bumble在博客和《纽约时报》上发布了一封愤怒的信作为回应。“亲爱的Match集团,我们对你向左滑动。”该信开头写着。“你多次要收购我们,多次抄袭,现在还来恐吓我们,左滑不送。” 信中还指控Match通过诉讼吓跑其他潜在竞标者,宣称不可能继续谈交易:“我们永远不会被你们收购。不管出多少钱,我们也绝不会在价值观方面妥协。”几天之后,Bumble提交了针对Match的诉讼,指控称Match在收购谈判期间采取欺诈手段获得敏感信息,而且将Bumble变成投资市场上的一粒“毒药”。Bumble要求4亿美元赔偿。

其他暂且不谈,至少从起诉中可知去年Match愿意出资4.5亿美元收购Bumble但遭到拒绝,由此引发对Bumble估值旷日持久的争议。接近Bumble的人士透露,Match提交起诉时双方谈判仍在进行,所以Bumble才愤怒回应。相关人士还表示,Match起诉可能是个策略,目的是向Bumble施加压力催成交易。

金斯伯格拒绝就收购谈判以及相关时间发表评论,理由是签署了保密协议。她表示诉讼原因仅仅是知识产权。“成千上万公司都在努力保护自身知识产权、专利和商业机密,”她还指出,就在Match向Bumble提交诉讼之后几天,也单独起诉了探探,人称“中国版Tinder”。(探探已于5月和解。)

“如果我们认为(起诉Bumble)没有价值也无充分理由,就不会这样做,”金斯伯格表示。“我考虑过很多次,‘做这个决定后悔吗?’答案是不后悔。”

Four days after the Match filing, Bumble fired back with an angry letter it published on its blog and in the New York Times. “Dear Match Group, we swipe left on you,” the letter began. “We swipe left on your multiple attempts to buy us, copy us, and now, to intimidate us.” Accusing Match of suing to scare away other potential bidders, the letter said any deal was off the table: “We’ll never be yours. No matter the price tag, we’ll never compromise our values.” A few days after that, it filed its own suit against Match, claiming Match had fraudulently obtained sensitive information during acquisition talks and that it had “poisoned” Bumble to the investment market. It asked for $400 million in damages.

Among other things, the suit stated that Match had made a $450 million offer for the company last year that Bumble rebuffed, sparking a protracted back-and-forth over Bumble’s valuation. Sources close to Bumble say those discussions were still ongoing when Match filed its lawsuit, and that’s what provoked Bumble’s outraged response. They also suggest that the Match lawsuit may have been a tactic to ramp up pressure on Bumble to do a deal.

Ginsberg declined to comment on acquisition talks or their timing, citing a nondisclosure agreement. She says the lawsuit was simply about intellectual property. “Thousands of companies protect their IP and patent infringement and trade secrets,” she says, noting that a few days after Match filed suit against Bumble, it also brought a separate suit against Tantan, known as the “Chinese Tinder.” (Tantan settled in May.)

“If we didn’t think there was merit and justification [in filing the Bumble lawsuit], we wouldn’t have done it,” Ginsberg says. “I thought a lot about, ‘Do I regret making that decision?’ I don’t.”

 
Wolfe Herd: Jeff Vespa—Getty Images; Andreev: Courtesy of Badoo 

但很快,5月8号两家公司都受到另一场巨大海啸袭击,即扎克伯格宣布加入市场的消息。“他突然说:‘你知道美国三分之一的婚姻都是从在线约会开始的么?’”杰富瑞互联网分析师布伦特·希尔回忆说,当天他参加了F8大会。“然后我就说:‘哦不,要开始做约会软件了。’”扎克伯格在演讲中表示,Facebook版约会软件的功能“主要是为了打造真实长期的亲密关系,而不只是约炮,”顺便讽刺了一下Tinder。

Facebook没怎么介绍具体细节,但表示盲选功能可以帮助用户匹配到陌生人,所以用户可以专门填写约会资料,朋友看不到。

之后一周,金斯伯格在Match业绩发布会上谈到该问题。她告诉投资者们,研究表明大部分单身人士,尤其是女性都不愿意用Facebook约会。她表示,用户一方面担心隐私泄露,另一方面不想在跟家人朋友分享动态的地方找约会。

她还指出约会业务其实没有看起来简单。虽然Match总部收到不少贺卡和感谢信,都是因为用户结婚或生孩子。但也有很多用户抱怨约会质量差,因而怪起公司。“约会业务就是有喜有忧。”她表示。“我们已经习惯了类似心理波动,他们也得学会适应。但这种复杂心理如何与既有核心产品融合?”

所有顾虑都很有道理,但现实是现在市值5000亿美元、拥有20亿用户的巨头刚宣布要打入Match基本上独占二十年的市场。

大家似乎都同意一点,Facebook有效支持在线约会将有助于行业合法化。“可能真正推动整体市场发展。”希尔说。Match发现进入人们熟悉Facebook的海外市场时,在线约会的门槛会降低。虽然Bumble和Match不断闹腾,Facebook进入也引发各种焦虑,但市场上还是有很多空间:平均而言,人们在给定时间里会使用三种约会产品。

在试用Tinder和Bumble几个星期之后,我发现自己不喜欢滑动。我开始想念用电子邮件约会时字斟句酌的感觉,与左滑右滑相比感觉像怀旧的维多利亚时代。我还对应用程序的定位机制感到厌恶,简单定位根本没法区分住在纽约市还是刚好路过。举个例子,我去波士顿拜访朋友时注册了Bumble,很快系统帮我匹配波士顿人,坐火车回家的路上,又给我匹配新英格兰海岸附近的单身人士。

人们也确实有抱怨:与昔日的Match.com相比,滑动交友明显更短期主义。许多个人资料都是空的,只有照片。在Tinder上,我看到有几对情侣找三人行,还有些已婚男人找婚外情。

但我发现,如果我足够耐心不停刷,似乎真能找到一些相对匹配的人。说到底,这对用户来说非常重要:我可能不喜欢应用,但如果我寻找的理想对象人群都使用Tinder和Bumble,那么我也要用。(IAC的莱文称之为“市场中的流动性。”)有时人群也会迁移。一个很好的例子:我为这篇文章研究时,有人建议我尝试约会网站Hinge,该网站最近重新调整,更注重培养关系,而且纽约人用得非常多。事实上,刊载本文的杂志版后不久,Match宣布已收购Hinge 公司51%股份,而且去年秋天就已对该公司进行未公开初始投资,在其董事会中有一个席位。

BOTH COMPANIES WOULD soon be hit with a much bigger tsunami of news on May 8, when Zuckerberg made his announcement. “All of a sudden, he starts saying, ‘Did you know that one in three marriages in the U.S. start online?’ ” recalls Jefferies Internet analyst Brent Thill, who was in the F8 audience that day. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, no, here comes the dating app.’ ”In his presentation, Zuckerberg said that the Facebook feature would be “for building real, long-term relationships, not just hookups,” a dig at Tinder.

Facebook has been light on actual details but says the opt-in feature will match users with people they aren’t already friends with, and that users will be able to create a separate dating profile that friends won’t be able to see.

Ginsberg addressed the issue on Match’s earnings call the following week. Research suggests the majority of singles—especially women—would not want to use Facebook for dating, she told investors. Users have concerns over both privacy and engaging in dating activities in the same place where they share updates with family and friends, she said.

She also points out that the dating business is not as easy as it might seem. While Match has reams of cards and thank-you notes hung around its headquarters for every wedding and child it helped create, it also hears from plenty of users who have had bad dates and blame the company. “Part of dating is the up and down,” she says. “We live with all that psychology, and they’ll have to, too. How does that psychology play in with the relationship they have with their core product?”

All these things are true, but so is the fact that a half-trillion-dollar company with 2 billion users just announced it’s getting into a field that Match has had pretty much to itself for more than two decades.

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that Facebook’s effectively endorsing online dating will be a huge legitimization event for the industry. “This may actually be a pump that primes the overall market,” says Thill. Match has found that when it has gone into new overseas markets where people are already comfortable with Facebook, it reduces the barrier to entry for online dating. And the truth is, for all the drama between Bumble and Match, and all the angst about Facebook’s entry, there’s a lot of room in this category: On average, people use three dating products at any given time.

AFTER A FEW WEEKS test-driving both Tinder and Bumble, I conclude that I am no fan of the swipe. I find myself missing the thoughtful, epistolary correspondence of email-based dating, which, compared with this, feels almost Victorian. I also developed an aversion to the apps’ location-driven approach, which draws no distinction between someone who lives in the New York City area and someone just passing through. I signed up for Bumble, for instance, while visiting friends in Boston and immediately matched with Bostonians—and then, on the Amtrak ride home, with eligible singles all up and down the New England coast.

And it’s true what people say: Compared with the Match.com of yore, there is much more short-term-ism. Many profiles don’t have anything written, just photos. On Tinder, I saw a few couples looking for a threesome and a handful of married men looking for something on the side.

But I found that if I was patient enough and kept swiping, there did seem to be a supply of eligible matches in my general demographic. Ultimately, that’s what really matters to daters: I may not love these apps, but if everyone in my demo is using Tinder and Bumble, then I’m going to use Tinder and Bumble. (Levin of IAC refers to this as “liquidity in the marketplace.”) Sometimes, the pack moves. Case in point: During my research for this story, someone suggested that I try the dating site Hinge, which had recently retooled itself to focus more on relationships, noting that it has seen a spike in use among New Yorkers. Indeed, shortly after the print version of this article went to press, Match announced that it had acquired a 51% stake in Hinge, and that it had made a previously undisclosed initial investment in the company and taken a seat on its board last fall.

 

Illustration by Gabriel Silveira

金斯伯格自己没怎么在网上约会过,只是在商学院期间用过几次Jdates。为了解在线约会用户的心理,她不断调查单身人士的经历,包括给19岁的女儿和女儿的朋友们发短信,询问对Tinder的看法。但她清楚偶然邂逅的美丽心情可以改变生活,也深刻明白人与人之间建立亲密关系并不太容易。

上世纪90年代早期,金斯伯格从加州大学伯克利分校毕业后决定担任暑期青少年访问以色列的顾问,之后打算回到家乡达拉斯。但在旅途中她爱上以色列导游,留下来嫁给他,在特拉维夫的软件公司找了份工作。(她的父母对如此冲动的行为怎么看?“她们并不高兴。”她说。)丈夫被伯克利临床心理学博士录取后,夫妇二人回到美国。丈夫继续深造,金斯伯格在公关公司爱德曼工作。她去著名的沃顿商学院学习时,两人带着1岁的女儿搬到了费城。

但她刚开学一个星期,丈夫告诉她两人关系没法继续了,他要回以色列去。 “我发现要独自照顾一岁的胖胖小家伙,还要应付全美最严酷的商学院课程。”金斯伯格回忆说。“有一刻我只想抱怨‘哦,糟糕’的时刻,然后陷入‘我该怎么办?’的恐慌,最后开始想‘等等不能慌。我得想办法解决。’”

她请日托和保姆帮忙,说服学习小组在她的房子聚会讨论,事情一样样解决了。(现在她和她的前夫关系良好。)但毕业后出现了更大的挫折:她的母亲被诊断出卵巢癌。金斯伯格搬回达拉斯照顾她,调整职业规划并在一家小型软件公司工作。她的母亲几年后去世。不久之后,金斯伯格检测出乳腺癌基因阳性,意味着她也可能遭受同样的命运。

接下来的几年里,她接受了乳房切除术,卵巢切除术(切除卵巢),还有子宫切除术,一边在Match.com职位不断提升。(重要亮点:她在之前的软件公司工作时遇到了第二任丈夫,并且在接受手术之前生下了第二个女儿。)尽管很坎坷,但金斯伯格说从经历中学到很多。 “当你遇到生活各种挑战,观点会发生变化,”她说。“你会意识到可以做很多事情。”

2006年,她加入了Match孵化新品牌Chemistry.com,担任总经理。金斯伯格在经营企业方面缺乏经验,但公司需要了解公关、营销,尤其是女性心理学的人。对于金斯伯格来说,她想进入消费者技术领域,而且碰巧在做媒方面有些天赋,已经成功撮合四对夫妻。两年后她将该品牌从零做到2500万美元估值,于是出任Match.com总经理,并于2012年担任Match首席执行官。2013年,她前往东部担任IAC新孵化业务Tutor.com首席执行官,随后收购考试辅导公司普林斯顿评论。2015年她担任Match集团北美分部首席执行官。她花了两年半的时间爬到最高点,去年年底接替布拉特担任首席执行官。

金斯伯格周围的人都说她自信且谦虚,对行业极其了解,而且擅长发现和培养人才,在管理拥有众多品牌的集团时具有优势。她的高级管理团队几乎全是追随多年的手下。2006年离开达拉斯软件公司后不久,她就挖走长期担任副手的沙穆斯塔·迪贝,也叫“沙”,担任Match集团总裁,还受到该公司起诉。

金斯伯格还表示,已经感受到在约会相关科技公司担任女性首席执行官责任重大。在线约会工具常遭滥用,在用户体验方面她跟Bumble的沃尔夫·赫德观点一致,认为应该考虑女性观点。她也意识到自己对公司文化的影响,尤其对女性员工。她被任命为首席执行官后不久,一位年轻的女性开发人员走进办公室倾诉说,之前她认为自己绝没机会在科技公司遇到女性老板,但现在看到金斯伯格,她觉得没准有一天自己也有机会向上走。“她的话让我很受触动。”金斯伯格说。

GINSBERG HERSELF NEVER did much online dating, save for a few Jdates while she was in business school. To get into the online dater’s mindset, she constantly polls singles about their experiences—including texting her 19-year-old daughter and her daughter’s friends to ask what they think of Tinder. But she knows firsthand how the excitement of a serendipitous meet-cute can change a life—and also how relationships aren’t always easy.

In the early-1990s, after graduating from UC–Berkeley, Ginsberg decided to spend the summer as a counselor on a teen tour to Israel, with the intent of returning to her native Dallas afterward. But while on the trip, she fell in love with the Israeli tour guide, stayed, and ended up marrying him, starting her career at software companies in Tel Aviv. (Her parents’ reaction to the seemingly impulsive move? “They were not very happy,” she says.) The couple returned to the U.S. when her husband was admitted to Berkeley’s clinical psychology Ph.D. program, and while he pursued his studies, Ginsberg worked for Edelman in public relations. When she got into the prestigious Wharton School, she and her husband, now with a 1-year-old daughter, relocated to Philadelphia.

But one week into her first semester, her husband told her that he felt the relationship wasn’t working—and that he was moving back to Israel. “I found myself with this fat little 1-year-old, and I was at the hardest business school in the country,” Ginsberg recalls. “And I just had this sort of ‘Oh, shit’ moment where I was like, ‘What am I going to do?’ Then I was like, ‘Wait. I have to figure this out.’”

Through day care, babysitters, and persuading her study groups to use her house as their gathering spot, she figured it out. (She and her ex-husband have remained on good terms.) But after she graduated came an even bigger setback: Her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ginsberg moved back to Dallas to care for her, adjusting her career plans and taking a job at a small software company. Her mother died a few years later—and soon after, Ginsberg tested positive for the BRCA gene, making her much more likely to suffer the same fate.

Over the following several years, she had a mastectomy, an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries), and a hysterectomy, all while she was climbing the ranks at Match.com. (A major bright spot: She met her second husband at her previous job at the software company and was able to have her second daughter before undergoing the surgeries.) As difficult as they were, Ginsberg says she took a lot from the experiences. “Your perspective changes when you have all of these life challenges,” she says. “You realize that you can do a lot.”

In 2006, she joined Chemistry.com, a new brand started by Match, as general manager. Ginsberg had little experience running a business, but the company was looking for someone who understood PR, marketing, and, in particular, psychology around women. For Ginsberg’s part, she wanted to get into consumer technology, and she happened to have something of a gift for matchmaking, having introduced four couples who’d gotten married. She took the brand from zero to $25 million before being named general manager of Match.com two years later and CEO of the Match business in 2012. In 2013, she headed East to become CEO of IAC’s nascent Tutor.com business, which subsequently acquired the Princeton Review test-prep company. Then, in 2015, she was brought back as CEO of Match Group North America. It took just 2½ more years for her to claim the top job, replacing Blatt, who stepped down as CEO at the end of last year.

Those around Ginsberg describe her as confident and low-ego, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the industry and a gift for spotting and nurturing talent—a relevant strength in a company with so many autonomously managed brands. Her senior management team consists almost entirely of people Ginsberg brought in over the years. She hired her longtime lieutenant, Sharmistha “Shar” Dubey, currently president of Match Group, in 2006, shortly after leaving the Dallas software company, which sued her for doing it.

Ginsberg also says she feels the significance of being a woman CEO at a dating and technology company. The online dating world has been rife with abuse, and much like Wolfe Herd at Bumble, she feels an obligation to think about the female perspective when it comes to the user experience. She’s also aware of her imprint on company culture and, particularly, female employees. Shortly after she was named CEO, a young female developer came into Ginsberg’s office and confided in her that she didn’t think she would ever get to work for a tech company run by a woman, but now seeing Ginsberg in that role, she could see herself there someday too. “That had a big impact on me,” Ginsberg says.

Illustration by Gabriel Silveira

现在金斯伯格工作排得满满当当。随着竞争加剧,公司格外重视增长,一方面要拓展国际市场,因为海外尚有6亿潜在用户,另一方面则要尽快变现。现在大多数用户仍在免费使用。

Match集团还在努力开发对女性友好的新功能,例如绅士徽章,最近在其欧洲Meetic品牌里上线,男性完成某些行为可以获得,例如认真填写全部档案或写出一定长度的电子邮件;女性对拥有徽章的男性关注度会提高33%。Tinder正开发工具,女性设置资料时可以选择是否只有己方可以开始聊天。所以,......就像Bumble一样? “很不一样,”金斯伯格强调,用户可以选择。 “而不是没得选。”

照片能展示的资料很有限;曾经在线约会最后失望的人都有体会(几乎所有人都失望过)。金斯伯格的目标是尽可能建立真正有意义的联系,这样当两个人面对面交流时,成功几率会更高。在这方面,视频的机会很大,而Tinder和Match.com最近开始测试视频功能。Tinder最近推出了Super Likeable功能,通过机器学习预测用户最有可能对哪些人向右滑动(即喜欢)。

Match也在不断努力改变行业的不良形象,尤其是Tinder得花更多力气摆脱约炮应用的名声。虽然现在很多人在Tinder上找到长期伴侣或配偶,《纽约时报》婚礼页就是现成证明,但该应用的品牌形象仍然不佳。“我们还得继续改善。”金斯伯格说。(许多人认为Match投资Hinge是为了提供休闲约会时另一种选择;相关报道反复将Hinge称为“反Tinder”。)

另一边则是Bumble带来的挑战。人们都在猜测热闹非凡的行业里接下来会会发生什么,哪家跟哪家可能走到一起。有些人赌Facebook会收购Bumble。其他人说虽然口水战不断,但仍有可能出现Match-Bumble合并。“即便拍条广告让Bumble说‘我们才不会跟你们玩’,相信我,他们也不一定真会拒绝Match。”咨询公司Digicraft的大卫·伊文斯说。

Match集团表示,尚未收到Bumble的诉讼。没准真来个不是冤家不聚头呢。(财富中文网)

本文另一版本发表于2018年7月1日出版的《财富》杂志,标题为《约会游戏》。

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

FOR NOW, GINSBERG HAS her hands full. As the competition looms, the company is focused on growth, both international—the untapped among those 600 million potential customers are largely overseas—and through better monetization; the majority of its customers still use its sites for free.

Match Group is also working on new female-friendly features, like a Gentleman’s Badge, a designation recently added into its European Meetic brand that men earn through certain behaviors, such as filling out an entire profile or engaging in lengthy email correspondence; men with the badge get 33% more attention from women. On Tinder, the company is developing a tool that will enable women to choose to set their profile such that they have to initiate contact. So … just like Bumble? “This is very different,” Ginsberg says, noting that users can choose. “You’re not forced down a path.”

Photos can show you only so much; just ask anyone who’s been disappointed by an online date (i.e., pretty much everyone who’s ever gone on one). A goal of Ginsberg’s is to get closer to the heart of creating a connection, so that by the time two people meet face to face there’s a higher chance of success. Videos can go a long way toward that end, and Tinder and Match.com recently started testing features using the technology. Tinder recently launched Super Likeable, which uses machine learning to predict which profiles a user is most likely to swipe right on.

Match also has to keep chipping away at the stigma that hurts the category—and, with Tinder, it has to work harder to shake its reputation as a hookup app. Even though plenty of people now meet long-term partners or spouses on Tinder—just peruse the New York Times wedding pages for proof—the brand’s tawdry image has stuck. “We’ve got some work to do there,” Ginsberg says. (Many saw Match’s investment in Hinge as an effort to offer an alternative to casual dating; news reports around the deal repeatedly referred to Hinge as the “anti-Tinder.”)

And then there’s the challenge from Bumble. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen with this heated and colorful saga, or who among these players is going to couple up with whom. Some put strong odds on Facebook’s acquiring Bumble. Others say despite the war of words, there’s still a chance of a Match-Bumble union. “When you take an ad out and when Bumble says, ‘We’re not gonna play your game’—believe me, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take an offer from Match,” says David Evans of Digicraft, an industry consultancy.

Match Group says the company has not yet been physically served with Bumble’s lawsuit. It could be that opposites attract after all.

A version of this article appears in the July 1, 2018 issue of Fortune with the headline “The Dating Game.”

我来点评

  最新文章

最新文章:

500强情报中心

财富专栏