Match CEO sees “long-lasting” changes to dating from coronavirus

As the coronavirus pandemic shuttered restaurants, movie theaters and bars across the country, more people were flying to dating apps like Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge than ever before.

  • Shar Dubey, the CEO of Match Group, which owns all three and numerous others, tells “Axios on HBO” the company has learned a lot from the last six months and expects many of the pandemic’s dating habits are here to stay.

What they’re saying: Now that more people have tried virtual dates and video chats, “people’s perception of the first stage [of a relationship] is going to change,” Dubey said.

  • “There are going to be long-lasting, consequential changes after this period where, you know, people are going to be using video more, the definition of a first date may change.”
  • A lot of a couple’s first moments “are going to be virtual, hopefully.”

The big picture: That could be great for companies like Match and others that connect people online, but could further weaken the appeal of live events, entertainment venues and bars and restaurants, which thrive on first dates and being a place for singles to meet.

  • It’s another way the economy could further shift to advantage tech companies at the expense of brick-and-mortar and small businesses.

Between the lines: The U.S. economy is driven by the services sector, and much of the increase in jobs since the 2008 Great Recession has been in retail, bars and restaurants and hospitality — all sectors suffering the greatest declines from the pandemic.

What’s next: Another interesting trend Dubey has seen is an increase in users searching for partners not just outside of their local area, but in other countries, beginning long-distance relationships online and continuing them without ever meeting in person.

  • There has been an increase in those couples getting married, Dubey says, adding: “Maybe the fact that geography is a constraint to finding love is going to be less important going forward.”

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