Interview with Justin McLeod, Hinge

Interview with Justin McLeod, Hinge

1) The Hinge rebrand has been huge news within the industry.  Has it gone how you planned? What lessons have you learned during the process?

We’re thrilled with how the relaunch went. On launch day, we saw 71% of users migrate over to the new Hinge. That was almost exactly what we expected to see based on the 70% of legacy users who said they wanted something even more serious than what Hinge offered as a swiping app.

2) Have you noticed an increase in matches, now that you’ve moved away from the swipe function?

Our goal with this relaunch was to put a stop to mindless swiping and endless games that resulted in more dead ends than relationships. On the new Hinge, we’re seeing 12x the proportion of sessions that users spend talking with each other rather than just discovering new people. And connections are 9x more likely to turn into dates relative to the old Hinge. That’s exactly the type of behaviour we hoped to see with this new design.

3) You’ve experimented with the payment wall during the process. How has that changed in the last six months, and what design have you settled on?

To create an invested community of people who are looking for relationships, Hinge members pay a low membership fee that’s nowhere near the cost of eHarmony ($60/month) or ($42/month), but it’s enough to ensure everyone is on the same page. However, we also wanted to give users the ability to try the new Hinge for free before upgrading to the full experience. Here’s where we landed:

  • Hinge’s Full Membership experience: members pay $7/month and received unlimited discovery and preferences.
  • Hinge’s free limited experience: before upgrading to a full membership, users can try a limited version of Hinge for free.

4) The app experience is a lot closer to social media than many dating apps.  Do you have any more changes in the pipeline you can tell us about?

We’re working on new features that help our members find meaningful connections. A few updates we’re working on include…

  1. Richer profiles – to help our members get a better sense of someone’s personality: video, personality profiles, etc.
  2. Discovery 2.0 – to help our members actively search for new people based on shared friends, interested, or experiences.
  3. Deeper connections – to help our members improve the way they connect with people and take things offline.

5) Recently Sam Yagan commented that he would recommend new apps took less VC money when they start up.  You’ve successfully raised large sums of investment on multiple occasions – if you were to do it again, would you approach investment in the same way?

Absolutely. Getting to critical mass is very difficult for a dating service, and you’re up against very well-resourced competitors. In order to have a shot, you need firepower in the form of capital. That said, while capital is necessary, it is not sufficient. Most services that have raised a lot of VC money have still been unable to generate scale or achieve profitability. It’s a tough business with economies of scale, and ultimately there are only going to be a few that are able to emerge as household names.