Tinder steps back from metaverse dating plans as business falters

Amidst a disappointing set of earnings for the last quarter, Match Group has announced it’s scaling back Tinder’s metaverse dating ambitions and scrapping plans to offer an in-app Tinder Coins currency. Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg, who became the dating app’s first female CEO just last September, is also leaving the position, parent company Match Group’s CEO Bernard Kim announced. Kim himself was named as CEO just two months ago.

Nyborg previously set out ambitious plans for Tinder’s take on the metaverse (or “Tinderverse” as she called it). Tinder acquired a company called Hyperconnect last year, which focuses on video, AI, and augmented reality technology, and Nyborg later cited its avatar-based “Single Town” experience as a way Tinder’s users might one day be able to meet and interact with one another in virtual spaces, TechCrunch reported at the time.

Now, however, Kim says he’s instructed Hyperconnect to scale back. “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 said. “We’ll 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 cited the acquisition of Hyperconnect as contributing to a $10 million operating loss in the second quarter of 2022, down from operating income of $210 million in the same quarter last year.

There was also bad news for Tinder Coins, the in-app currency that Tinder had hoped would encourage more spending on the service. The idea was that Tinder would distribute coins as a reward for users being active on the service and keeping their profiles up to date, but would also allow them to be purchased directly. They would then be accepted as payment for premium Tinder features like Super Likes. As of February this year, the feature had been soft-launched in a handful of markets around the world.

But now, Kim says the company is re-evaluating its Tinder Coins plans. “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,” he wrote in the earnings release. The company previously said it wanted to roll the feature out broadly in the third quarter of this year.

Although revenue was up overall, CNBC reports that Match Group’s earnings fell short of analyst expectations for the quarter ($795 million versus estimates of $804 million), and that its forecast little to no growth in earnings for the third quarter of the year. It says it saw a surge in activity on its services last year due to the vaccine rollout, but that “we are not seeing a similar surge of activity in 2022.” CNBC notes that shares fell 22 percent in extended trading on Tuesday following the report.