HR & Management

Tinder breaks up with CEO to put co-founder Sean Rad back at the helm

3 min read

13 August 2015

Deputy Editor, Real Business

Despite former eBay executive Chris Payne becoming CEO of Tinder in March, replacing co-founder Sean Rad, the company has swiped left on Payne only a few months into the job to reinstate Rad from his position as president.

Forbes suggested Rad was demoted due to a high-profile sexual harassment case filed against him by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe. The lawsuit argued that Rad stripped Wolfe of her title as co-founder because she was a woman, and later fired her after her split with Justin Mateen – who was also at the helm of the company – escalated in the news.

IAC – the company that owns Tinder – said it wanted Rad to let go of the top position in order to focus on the product. “The board thought the best path was to bring in a CEO, thinking if we opened up the role it would attract better talent,” said Rad. “I strongly disagreed.”

After four months of searching for a replacement, Payne was hired to bring more experience to the dating app. He was brought on to help Tinder make money as it entered a more established phase, and followed the company’s roll out of its first paid product – “Tinder Plus”. This version lets users pay a monthly fee to undo decisions to pass on a potential romantic match.

In November, Rad claimed Tinder would look for “an Eric Schmidt-like person” to replace him as CEO. “Christopher brings invaluable experience running consumer technology businesses that operate at massive scale,” Rad said.

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Explaining the sudden rationale behind cutting Payne loose, board member Matt Cohler said: “It became clear after a few months that it wasn’t going to become a long-term fit.”

He claimed that one of the things the board has to navigate is how much the company has to conform to the leader or vice versa. He said that in this case both would have to contort themselves too much to make it work. 

Cohler added: “In this kind of a company that is growing so rapidly, everything needs to happen quickly. I’m proud of the fact that everyone around the table had the maturity to look the situation in the eye and take action.”

It remains unclear, however, whether Rad will be taking over the role of CEO permanently.