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Tinder’s new NY-based rival Hinge nets big new investment

Social discovery/matchmaking network Hinge has bagged a handsome $4.5 million in new investment, despite apparently being a clone of Tinder.

Structured data not endless swiping

The more discerning social media managers who read this headline will, of course, already be on the lookout for distinguishing features that make this New York startup distinct from its more established rival. And if those same social media managers experiment with both matchmaking apps they’ll quickly find it. Instead of swiping through seemingly limitless queues of prospective mates as in Tinder, Hinge uses structured data clues to create daily “romance graphs.”

It’s not as bloodless and mathematical as it sounds: Hinge effectively gives its users a daily set of tailored matches based on parameters like a user’s profession, interests, education history and previous romantic “likes” from the past. And it’s certainly gaining a goodly amount of traction, with its Android and iOS userbase up 300 percent this year across the nine cities it operates in: NYC, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, LA and Washington, DC (the company relocated from the latter to NYC last year).

A big door opens

OK, so it’s still a lot smaller than Tinder, which manages 850 million swipes and 10 million matches every day. But social media managers with their radar tuned to the social grapevine will know that Tinder is currently in the midst of a PR debacle, suspending its CMO and co-founder Justin Mateen late last month in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment. Given that the online dating market is becoming global, and Tinder is experiencing a significant wobble, a massive opportunity is standing right before Hinge.

The Hinge dating app doesn’t just pair up friends-of-friends who simply share the same job or the same college background. Pulling data from Facebook, it identifies more subtle connection parameters, like the fact that Ivy League alums enjoy intermingling, or that guys who specialize in finance tend to have a romantic preference for female lawyers! Did you know that? I certainly didn’t.

There’s no need for those slightly excruciating eHarmony-style essays; users can just add a few extra tags about, say, their personality, their religion, their ethnicity, or their favorite dating spots.

A big door has just opened for this startup. We wish it well.

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