Tycoons of love: The men who run digital dating (and how they're rated)
The world of dating apps is dominated by four main companies, but behind these players — like the profiles that millions everywhere swipe left or right on — are the people that have helped make the industry $3 billion in revenue last year.
And despite the industry trying to make a more diverse and open dating experience, four of the most powerful people in this industry are male, three of whom are white. That may be changing over time, however, as we'll reveal in our upcoming special about the business of dating apps.
Here are the four men behind Match Group ($NASDAQ:MTCH), Meet ($NASDAQ:MEET), Badoo ($BADOO), and Spark ($NYSEMKT:LOV), how they're doing according to their own employees based on Glassdoor review data, and a little bit about their backstories.
Born in San Francisco in 1942, 77 year-old Barry Diller is Chairman and Senior Executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp and Expedia, Inc. Previously, he was CEO of IAC and Expedia, where he oversaw Match.com, the dating conglomerate behemoth that runs Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and dozens of other apps.
Diller married fashion designer Diane von Fürstenberg in 2001 and is now estimated to be worth $3.3 billion. He also created the Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Broadcasting. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1994. On top of creating his own empire in media, Diller’s influence has spread to those who he mentored — colloquially called the “Killer Dillers” — which included former Disney Chairman & CEO Michael Eisner and Dawn Leslie Steel, one of the first woman to become the head of a major movie studio.
Given that Joey Levin is CEO of IAC, we looked at overall ratings for IAC, where Barry Diller still acts as Chairman & Senior Executive. Reviews for the company as a workplace have been on an upswing as of late.
Geoff Cook isn't The Meet Group's founder. That honor goes to his younger brother and sister, Dave and Catherine Cook.
Dave and Catherine created myYearbook in 2005 as a place for ex-classmates to meet up online, play some games, and keep in touch. The site quickly became a buzzing place for people to meet.
Geoff became the company's power player after investing $250,000 that he made from his EssayEdge and ResumeEdge startups he created in his Harvard dorm room.
Cook's CEO rating is in below-average territory at just 42%. According to reviews for the company, employees aren't happy at MeetMe, citing disorganized management structures and lack of job security.
Born in February 1974 in Moscow, Russia, Andreev founded Badoo, SpyLog, Begun, and Mamba. He also famously convinced ex-Tinder exec Whitney Wolfe Herd to create Bumble, of which Badoo is a 79% owner.
Andreev, 44, was recently listed by Forbes as one of the world’s richest people, estimated to be worth $1.5 billion. However, he’s kept a low profile for the most part, often described as “mysterious”, but has made appearances in interviews and sometimes gushing profiles of late. He now lives in London.
Andreev's CEO rating on workplace review site Glassdoor has dropped a bit as of late. To be fair, however, the site didn't report many data points about his performance until recently.
Compared to other players here, Jeronimo Folgueira, the head of Spark Networks SE, is a relative unknown. He has just 395 followers on Twitter, is rarely interviewed in the media, and before taking over Spark in 2017, he was a Managing Director at Betfair plc (now Paddy Power plc).
The Columbia Business School grad took over the reigns of all of Spark Networks SE when JDate and Christian Mingle-focused Spark merged with Affinitas GmbH, where he led from 2015, to create Spark Networks SE.
Despite his lower profile, Jeronimo is well-liked by employees, and currently has a 100% approval rating on Glassdoor.
Coming soon: the rule-breakers
While these four men have massive stakes — and influence — in the digital dating domain, the future is shifting, as we'll show in our report on the business of dating tomorrow.
As daters grow tired of swiping on Tinder, activity on Bumble picks up, and seasonality begins to matter less to single people, new players in the game like Coffee Meets Bagel (above), Hinge, and Grindr are speaking to new audiences with specific needs, and they're coming from places that people like Barry Diller would likely never understand.
Although the four gentlemen profiled here are certainly positioned well, one thing is certain: singles are a fickle bunch, and things are changing.