KPCB-Product Fellows Program Application
Describe, in a blog post or video, the last product you used that took your breath away. Please explain what the product is, why you loved it, and any broader analysis or information you think is relevant. This can not be an Apple product. You can provide your submission as a link to your blog post or video.
The last product that took my breath away was Tinder. Tinder is a mobile dating app that is solving the world’s most ancient problem: how to connect people intimately.
Users create a profile that connects to their Facebook and Instagram accounts and are then displayed other users/prospective partners in a chosen proximity to their location. Users have the option of swiping left or right on their displayed users to express interest or disinterest based on profile pictures, mutual friends, interests, and a short bio. Once users are matched they have the option to engage in a chat conversation and go from there.
I love Tinder because when it comes to dating, Tinder has eliminated 2 of the main problems: 1) Finding people who are attracted to you and 2) Finding people who are actively looking. When a man or woman looks to approach someone they are interested in those two questions are unanswered which can lead to approach anxiety, rejection, frustration, and ultimately a slew of emotional problems. Not to mention the social confidence it takes to approach someone new in the first place. Ultimately, Tinder is a mobile app that empowers people in an incredibly important aspect of their lives.
From a design perspective, Tinder is designed for minimalism and speed while at the same time hooking in the user. According to CEO Sean Rad, the design for Tinder was inspired by a stack of cards, as users interact with Tinder profiles like a digital deck of cards. This metaphor has a gamification aspect to the idea of swiping through multiple potential matches to find the right “one”, a design that engages users. According to Nir Eyal’s book “Hooked”, Eyal talks about the certain emotions that trigger behavior, in the case of Tinder, it is the feeling of loneliness or libido which are painful negative emotions that are solved by using the app. Additionally, Tinder plays on the aspect Eyal discusses of “variable reward”, as the variable expectancy of being “matched” with someone creates a psychological hook to the Tinder app itself by staying invested and habitually using the app. As a result, the app has massive network effects, and the more positive right swipes a user does and the more time they spend on an app, they increase the likelihood of meeting prospective partners. By being able to simply swipe left or right with one hand, a user can scour through multiple matches in a number of seconds, maximizing potential matches while minimizing the amount of time invested. The registration process is simple as well by simply syncing with your Facebook profile with the touch of a button. In fact, the according to an article by the New York Times, the average Tinder user logs into the app 11 times a day. Tinder’s app design leads to incredible user engagement, and in the world of consumer technology, this is a proxy for business valuation.
Tinder is at the convergence of what KPCB Partner John Doerr described as the wave of “So-Lo-Mo”, or social, local, mobile. By Tinder connecting your Facebook account and displaying your mutual Facebook friends, a level of trust is established(social), by displaying Tinder potential matches in your area by utilizing location services(local) from your mobile phone. As the smartphone market is reaching maturity and people are always on the go, Tinder makes sense for a lot of people who can’t invest that much time and effort into dating.
Critics argue that Tinder has led to a sense of superficiality, as people make romantic choices based on a few images and a limited profile. But if you think about it, life itself is superficial as we make are forced to make choices in the dating world based on limited information: looks, body language, occupation, other status symbols, etc. Furthermore, according to experts, what matters most in the early stages of a relationship, is looks anyway.
As software begins to “eat the world”, modern dating as we know it is poised for disruption. Ultimately, the mobile dating applications that focus on simple, engaging user experiences like Tinder has, will dominate the industry.