In August 2015, Vanity Fair published an article in which they heavily pilloried the hookup culture. The author predicted a “dating apocalypse” and exposed the various dating apps of that time. The article pointed to Hinge, among other things, accusing her of her involvement in “wiping love and romance off the screen”.
Back then, just like Tinder and Bumble, the Hinge app used the profile swipe system, a feature inspired by the gaming psychology of slot machines that was widely blamed for trivializing modern romance. But unlike the other giants of the day, Hinge began to take a closer look.
In a 2016 interview, Hinge Founder and CEO Justin McLeod told Vanity Fair that the dating apocalypse article rigorously explores the real benefits of this profile wipe and the impact it has on the lives of hinge users have triggered.
Ultimately, the Hinge team chose to base their decisions on data. “Just one swipe out of 500 resulted in a phone number exchange, and 81 percent of Hinge users said they never found a long-term relationship with a swipe app,” said Tim MacGougan, chief product officer at Hinge.
Tim joined the product team when the Hinge leadership decided to detoxify the dating app culture and equip Hinge with new tools that would lead to more relationships. By unlocking empathy and data, Tim and the team have helped transform the way relationships are built online. In doing so, they helped more people relate to others with Hinge and ultimately achieved the good kind of user churn, the one that it was aimed at and that meant people found love with the app.
While Hinge started the company in 2011, Tim worked as a customer service representative at Bonobos, the start-up retail company that has grown to become the largest clothing brand on the Internet in the United States. This role helped him gain some important insight into his burgeoning career in products – before he even embarked on that career path.
“At Bonobos, I fell in love with the dynamic, chaotic startup culture. It was incredibly instructive to see how teams would work together and find an innovative solution for the best of the customer, ”remembers Tim. Looking back, Tim realized that he had a knack for quickly understanding and capturing a user’s experience, which would resolve frustrations and improve experiences.
“It wasn’t just the process of solving each individual problem. I enjoyed finding the best solution to what a person specifically asked for while intuitively knowing what could still improve their overall experience.