Why Is Dating App Tinder So Interesting?

For all the people spending time trying to make the Internet better, it’s actually quite rare to see a unique idea. Think of the first time you saw Twitter, or Facebook, or a blog, or used Google. That’s what I felt when I first started playing with Tinder.

Tinder, if you don’t know, is a dating app. You log in, connect to Facebook, and say if you are looking for men or women. You can adjust the settings to show people only in a very near locale, or fifty miles away. And away you go.

You are shown a very slim profile of a person. It’s a few pics, a headline, any shared common interests or friends you have (based on your Facebook profile), and occasionally a paragraph. That’s all. From this surprisingly slight information, you only have to make one decision: swipe left or swipe right. Swiping left means that you aren’t interested. Swiping right means you are. Simple as that.

After that, it’s like a game: you are shown one profile at a time (think of them as cards in a deck), and you swipe one way or the other. At some point, someone who you were interested in will swipe your card to the right and you’ll get a notification. Time to chat!

Now, while it’s a dating app, think about what’s going on.


Cards contain just enough information to help someone make a decision. These are Match.com or OKCupid profiles that can be hundreds of words long. This is a visual impression and some things you are both into – that’s it.


Because the cards are so small, and because you only see one at a time, this is an idea built for mobile. You can “play” on the train or in meetings. You don’t need a big screen to see all the info. You don’t need a keyboard to do a lot of complex interaction. You’re swiping left or right.

The Unilateral Like

When you are dating in person, there’s the issue of two people having differing levels of interest in each other. If I like you but you don’t like me, things can get awkward. Even online, I might spend two hours building my profile and hours sending emails to interesting people. This is a huge investment, and if that interest isn’t returned at the same level, it’s discouraging. Here is a model where, with the swipe of a finger, I am sorting. This is less an investment in time than it is a fun way to kill five minutes on the way home. And I only get notifications about people who picked me, too.

The Handshake

In a way, this two-part process, where two people have to unilaterally “like” one another, is like a handshake: you can’t shake someone’s hand if they don’t want to shake yours. A handshake is a one-to-one connection, not a group connection or a multi-person connection. The handshake denotes that each person has some stake in this relationship as well as some power in it. The handshake establishes a connection that has rules baked into it. It begins a deeper and more meaningful conversation.

No other tool, medium or game, online or off, offers these kinds of opportunities to find like-minded individuals in a fun and relaxed way – opportunities that lead to complex and deep relationships.

Is There a Connection to Talent Acquisition?

There is no Tinder for job seekers, currently. But imagine recruiters scanning cards that each contain just enough information to determine value and fit. Imagine a job seeker scanning companies or jobs, looking for interest and fit. Only when each signal their own interest does anything happen.

I’m not promising a world of Tinder-like cards that will generate all the interest of recruiters and job seekers, but it’s worth noting that Twitter is growing its own card system. Twitter cards allow Twitter users to be pitched music, video, pictures and even app downloads through Twitter. What started as a so-called “micro-blogging” service is now growing via cards.

We’re seeing a world where the shift in power has swung from the employer to the applicant, especially in the most crucial roles. What if we found a more even playing field, where the bar to initiating engagement was much lower, where conversations could start after both parties expressed some level of interest in each other. Instead of recruiters launching full-court press campaigns at someone’s LinkedIn, they can cast a wider net of people who expressed casual interest. They can winnow those cards down to their best prospects, growing the relationship into something greater than just a resume.

Is Tinder starting a card revolution? Well, it certainly adds a very different way of looking at interactions. And with Tinder facilitating ten million matches a day, they may have something worth saying.