Tinder's parent company Match Group, the online dating conglomerate that owns a number of dating sites including OKCupid and Match.com, has acquired rival service Hinge. Per The Verge, that leaves women-centric Bumble as the "only notable dating app" outside Match's control, though not for lack of trying.
According to the company, the deal leaves Match Group with 51 per cent of Hinge, with CEO Mandy Ginsberg touting the new acquisition as "highly relevant particularly among urban, educated millennial women looking for relationships".
Hinge originally marketed itself as the opposite of Tinder, that is, for relationships instead of hookups, and it did away with swiping in October 2016 in favour of a system based on liking parts of others' profiles, designed to make it feel less like just another app.
It also tested a service called Audrey that set up dates for lazy users, and according to its website, premium options include access to what it calls Hinge Experts - essentially profile advisers.
Match Group originally bought into Hinge last year, per CNN Money, and Hinge isn't abandoning the relationship branding as it plans to scale up:
Match Group said it acquired its initial stake in September 2017. The company said it has "gradually" increased its stake ever since.
In a press release announcing Match Group's acquisition of a majority stake, Hinge CEO Justin McLeod said in a statement that its mission is to serve "millennials who are looking for more meaningful, lasting connections."
Bumble is currently locked in a multimillion dollar legal war with Match Group, with the latter company accusing Bumble of stealing Tinder's ideas. Bumble is counter-suing for $US400 million ($542 million), with its own claims that Match Group engaged in a "tortious and fraudulent campaign" after it failed to buy them out for a reported $US450 million ($610 million) in 2017. Per CNN:
Bumble's suit claims the two companies were in talks as recently as December 2017. Match Group "deviously asked for, and received Bumble's most sensitive competitive information - without disclosing that it was already planning to sue Bumble," the complaint says.
It also takes a dig at Tinder's swiping design patent, calling it "invalid."
The backdrop to all this quarreling and consolidation is the threat of a bigger competitor entering the market: Facebook. In May, the data-hoarding social media behemoth announced their own deeply uncomfortable move into the dating sector, specifically saying it wanted to focus on relationships rather than hookups.
The move sent Match Group's stock tumbling. Its owners IAC responded by trash-talking Facebook's approach towards privacy - though just weeks before they had suffered through their own controversy when old Match.com profiles began reactivating on the site, and Tinder itself relies on Facebook authentication to validate many profiles.
While the biggest players in the market seem to be trying to scale up, there are still some niche services out there for those with specific tastes. Per The New York Times, those include marriage-centric Indian company Shaadi, social status-focused the League, and FarmersOnly, which as you might guess is marketed towards singles who enjoy the rural life.