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How Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg helps people find their person

How the CEO of the group that owns OKCupid, Tinder, and dozens of other apps meets the dating needs of different communities, at home and abroad.

How Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg helps people find their person
[Photo: Trevor Paulhus]

Rare is the plane ride that doesn’t end with Mandy Ginsberg’s seatmates telling her about their love lives. Since taking the helm of Match Group in January 2018, Ginsberg has overseen a robust dating-app portfolio that includes Tinder, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish, among other brands, and spans 42 languages and more than 190 countries. Though relationship advice isn’t her specialty, she’s adept at cultivating online spaces where they might grow. From the millennial African American who uses the BLK app, to the senior looking to ease back into the dating world on Our Time, Ginsberg is making sure Match Group, whose 2018 revenue is expected to hit $1.72 billion (up 30% year over year), leaves no single behind.

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Invite everyone to the party

Ginsberg says single people can range from “your college roommate who got divorced in her thirties to your cousin who’s just out of the University of Texas to your aunt who lost her spouse.” To stay on top of various and always changing demographic trends, she leans on quarterly surveys to see who is using Match apps, including where they’re from, how old they are, and their sexual orientation. Match’s data, for example, reveals that coastal PhDs gravitate to OkCupid while middle America tends to jibe with Plenty of Fish. This past summer, after the company found a hole in its portfolio for folks ready to graduate from the rowdier swipe-based Tinder, Match acquired Hinge, which caters to twentysomethings who are looking for more serious relationships. When focus groups of Latina populations in Texas, California, New York, and Florida revealed that they felt left out of the dating-app landscape, Match partnered with Univision to launch Chispa (“spark,” in Spanish) in December 2017.

See the world without judgment

When Ginsberg began working at Match’s Chemistry.com unit over a decade ago, she didn’t anticipate that more than 50% of Match Group’s revenue would one day come from outside the U.S. Under her leadership, Match has become increasingly nimble at adapting to other cultures. The company’s Asia-focused Pairs app is currently the most popular dating service in Japan, but it once struggled in a country where meeting people online is still considered taboo. Instead of taking a traditional approach to marketing by advertising the app on radio and television, Match instead focused on destigmatizing the entire idea of meeting someone online. The company commissioned a series of portraits of couples who had met through Pairs and showcased their photos on its site. “You introduce [people] to the notion of ‘Oh, look at these people who are proud to say they met online and fell in love and had babies,'” says Ginsberg.

Keep things in focus

Ginsberg watched as Match Group’s stock dropped 22% last May after Facebook announced its plan to enter the online dating space. She quickly assembled her team for a pep talk and urged them to stay focused on the strong defense they’d already built with their portfolio of brands. “We live and breathe this world of dating,” she told employees. “That’s all we do, all day long. If we can do that well and keep creating real success in our products, it will be hard for anyone to compete with us if that’s just one thing they’re doing out of a multitude of things.” Match Group’s stock rebounded in just over three months. Ginsberg says she developed her equanimity the hard way. After losing both her mother and aunt to ovarian cancer, Ginsberg tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene, a strong predictor of the disease. “I am a time bomb,” she remembers thinking, before choosing to undergo a preventative mastectomy and hysterectomy after she turned 40. Still, risks remain, but she can stay focused knowing she’s done all she can. “I do these checkups every couple of years. Every time I come back from the doctor I stick the results up on that wall in front of my standup desk. If I’m ever having a bad day I look at it and say, ‘Don’t forget you’re just super lucky to be here.'”

Love is all around

In Addition to major players like Match.com and Tinder. Match group also operates match affinity brands, a portfolio of dating sites that cater to hyperspecific communities.

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