Tinder gives equity stake to San Francisco VC firm Benchmark

by Julianne Tveten
October 29, 2014

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San Francisco venture firm Benchmark Capital has taken equity in Tinder, marking the first outside stake in the dating app, reports say.

The firm, which made the announcement today, would not disclose the size of the stake. Sources have confirmed that no money was invested by Benchmark.

As part of the deal, Benchmark general partner Matt Cohler will join Tinder’s board of investors, sitting alongside CEO Sean Rad, Gregg Blatt, and Sam Yagan, Chairman and CEO (respectively) of The Match Group, which oversees Tinder.

"Benchmark brings to Tinder unparalleled experience in the consumer Internet space,” Rad said in a statement. “I'm excited about the contributions my long-time mentor Matt and the Benchmark team can make to our continued growth."

Tinder’s growth has been, quite literally, exponential. Since Rad, Jonathan Badeen, and Justin Mateen founded the dating service in 2012, Tinder users now swipe through an average of 1.2 billion profiles and make more than 15 million matches each day, according to Rad's interview with Forbes. (Mateen, who presided as CMO, resigned in September following a sexual harassment lawsuit.) 

Tinder initially gained footing at Hatch Labs, an incubator with backing from InterActivCorp (IAC), The Match Group’s parent company. IAC's backing, however, gives it a substantial stake in the company, which has deterred any previous outside investment rounds.

Eager for the rare opportunity to invest, Cohler said in an interview, “This has been an app that has taken off in the way a lot of the really successful ones that I have seen in the past have. What’s happening at Tinder is something that is very special.”

Tinder is currently free to users and has no revenue model, but Rad has announced plans to release a subscription service in November, as well as expansion into markets such as networking and job search.

According to Rad, Tinder’s first priority is gaining adviser expertise – rather than funds – which he feels Cohler, a former LinkedIn and Facebook executive with a roster of investments in companies including Uber and Instagram, will provide.

“Matt will complement Sean’s proven product leadership and the expertise in the social and dating categories we already have on the board,” Sam Yagan said in a statement. “I’m confident Benchmark’s involvement will help Tinder achieve its huge growth potential and am excited about continuing to build out the Tinder team.”

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