Jonathan Badeen, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Tinder, shares his experiences at a fireside chat at Techweek Kansas City. He speaks about his interest in creating products through programming, making imagination a reality, and his inspiration behind creating Tinder that evolved from being a free app to a revenue generating product. Tinder has grown over the years as one of the world’s most popular dating apps, with its ‘swipe right’ feature becoming a popular metaphor for headline writers.

Some of our key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Swipe Right Feature and Stack of Cards:
    Jonathan’s thought behind creating the ‘swipe right’ feature was inspired from a stack of cards, placed horizontally, that he was trying to organize on the phone using one hand. With real-life scenarios in mind, he separated the cards based on choices — Yes and No. The drill finally led to the creation of the swipe right for the right match feature.
  2. From Being Free to Generating Revenue:
    Making profits is based on how you want people to pay. Tinder’s strength is its user base. The key is for the paid service, Tinder +, to be equipped with exciting features that are not used by the others, or are used in fewer numbers. Users are spending around the app, and Tinder may tap those areas in the future to generate revenue.
  3. Tinder — Not Just a Dating App:
    The app is used not only for dating but people have also found jobs, travel partners, co-founders, friends, and more. Any good tool should have more uses than anticipated. People get together and if they are not compatible in dating, there are other ways in which the relationship forms.
  4. Handling Controversies and Tumults:
    Jonathan handles controversies by not entertaining them at all. He avoids reading news because that either upsets you or gives you a big head. It is important to realize the stakes but not get distracted by the controversies that surround you.
  5. Tech Scene in Kansas City:
    The tech scene of Kansas City is evolving for good. “I’m so excited about it because I love Kansas City. I did not move away from Kansas City for lack of love. … I hope to get back here in the near future,” Jonathan says. In the past, there weren’t many tech options/visible role models in Kansas that are in places like California. More tech pioneers in the city would change the perception of the next generation.

Below are some of the key points and moments from the conversation:

  • 00:50 – Jonathan’s interest in programming comes from a natural interest in creating products/things that people would want to use
  • 01:50 – The ‘swipe right’ feature wasn’t originated from Tinder but was actually developed while he was working with a stack of cards on the phone
  • 03:50 – Tinder transformed from a free app by introducing paid services and features such as Tinder+ and ‘Super Like’, along with video ads and other platforms
  • 06:37 – Tinder strives to find new ways to stay ahead in the game. It has a great team and a huge user base, along with the advantage of being a pioneer in a platform that is not very common
  • 07:54 – People found jobs, friends, travel partners, co-founders through the app. It has multifarious uses
  • 11:47 – It becomes difficult to realize that things are becoming big. Jonathan handles controversies by not listening to the news and focus on work instead
  • 13:02 – Kansas City has a thriving tech community now, which wasn’t there when Jonathan was growing up. The next generation will benefit from it
  • 14:34 – Jonathan plans to continue nurturing Tinder and be involved in tech in all his capacities in the next 5-10 years
  • 15:44 – A successful startup comes from making the best product, put your heart and soul into whatever you are doing and it will pay
  • 17:20 – Q&A session highlights Tinder’s international success from Sochi Olympics and the culture of being more focused on data


Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Tinder

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