After an announcement months ago that Tinder founder Sean Rad would be stepping out of the CEO role and into a more presidential position, the decision has finally been made on a new CEO for the growing dating app.
Christopher Payne, most recently head of eBay North America and formerly of Microsoft and Amazon, will be taking over as CEO.
“I’ve been looking for a partner for a long time now,” said Rad. “There are a bunch of things that I’m incredibly good at, and there’s a lot of things that I want to defer to someone else. I’m focused on product and marketing. Chris respects product as the center of everything, but his experience will be instrumental in dealing with operations and helping us rapidly scale.”
Rad will continue on as a board member, cofounder, and as Tinder president. Operationally, Rad will report to Payne as CEO, while still having a strategic voice as member of the board, alongside Matt Cohler, Sam Yagan and Greg Blatt.
Payne will take over operations of the company, while Rad will lead product and marketing.
“I’m so impressed with what Sean and the team have built,” said Payne. “I’ve been in tech for 24 years and I think Tinder is the single most exciting innovation in social, mobile, and local all rolled into one. I’ve spent my career at companies that are aspiring to change the world through software, and that’s what Tinder really is.”
The leadership changes, enforced by IAC, were the source of some discord when they were first made clear to Rad in November. Sources told Forbes that Rad’s removal from the CEO role boiled down to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Tinder marketing exec Whitney Wolfe that led to the ousting of co-founder Justin Mateen and was later settled out of court.
With optics damaged by the lawsuit, publicly traded IAC (which owns a controlling stake in Tinder) likely felt that a seasoned executive, with experience at publicly traded companies, might be a safer bet than Rad in a CEO role.
That said, the job doesn’t come without a fair amount of scrutiny. But Payne says he’s ready.
“I’ve made my career out of taking big jobs,” said Payne. “This is what I sought out because I want this type of impact, and I’m honored to lead something as special as Tinder. It’s a phenomenal opportunity and job and I feel that I’m prepared for it.”
Payne started his career out at Amazon, where he built out the Electronics and DVD departments under Bezos. He then shifted his services to MSN Search at Microsoft, with much of what he built carrying over into the Bing era. Payne then moved on to eBay after his startup Positronics (which dealt with machine learning and big data) was acquired by the online e-commerce giant. Re/Code reports that Payne was in the running for the CEO position at PayPal before joining Tinder.
Tinder recently launched a premium tier of the service called Tinder Plus, which introduces features like Rewind (letting users go back on their last left swipe) and Passport (letting users search for matches in any location). Tinder Plus is priced based on age, with users under 30 paying around $10/month, and users over 30 paying around $20/month, depending on geography.
Beyond that, Tinder Plus also introduced a new right swipe limiter, which the company says is meant to encourage better behavior among users who endlessly swipe right without even looking at their matches, just to see who liked them back. It also fights bots and other misuses of the app, but is more aimed at “maintaining the value of a match,” Rad said in an interview last week.