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Tinder struggles to attract younger users as Gen Z singles look to new apps



Tinder is struggling to attract younger users who are starting to abandon the world’s dominant dating app, as Generation Z singles prefer hotter new services in the search for love after lockdowns.

The well-known app quickly became the dating service of choice for millennials since launching in 2012, as consumers switching from desktops to mobiles left older platforms such as eharmony and Match.com.

The latest generation of young people, who are returning to the dating scene after the pandemic, also appear to be shifting to alternatives to Tinder in the hunt for romance.

Downloads of Tinder, which allows users to accept or reject potential partners with the swipe of a smartphone screen, dropped 5 per cent in 2021 to 70.7mn. Rivals such as Bumble and new start-up Thursday have enjoyed consistent growth, according to new figures from app market researchers data.ai.

That trend has led Tinder to make changes in an effort to achieve new growth, from restructuring its leadership to betting on the so-called metaverse as the future method by which people will meet online.

“Sign-ups have not returned back to pre-pandemic levels,” Gary Swidler, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Tinder parent company Match Group, told the Financial Times.

“New users remain a challenge and that’s where product innovation comes in. We need to give people a new reason to come into the [dating app] category, they haven’t had something new and exciting in a while.”

His comments come just weeks after Match said Tinder was failing to meet revenue growth expectations in its second-quarter results, ousting the company’s chief executive Renate Nyborg after less than a year in the role.

Match, which owns a host of dating sites including established brands such as Plenty of Fish and OKCupid, needs Tinder to retain its dominant market position. The app generated $1.65bn in revenue last year, more than half of Match Group’s total revenue.

The group’s share price has dropped more than 50 per cent this year, with its heritage platforms, such as Match.com, suffering declining revenues and paying users.

“It is on us to figure out what is the next great thing [in dating],” said Swidler. “It tends to come with technological evolution or revolution.”

One of Tinder’s big bets is the metaverse, where enthusiasts believe people will increasingly interact in virtual environments. Tinder is doing this through further gamification of the app, hiring executives from games companies Zynga, Electronic Arts, Glu and King in recent years to bolster its offering.

The platform is finding it tricky to execute this vision, rolling back its virtual coins feature this month, used for in-app spending, having only launched in November, after seeing mixed results.

The company is still figuring out how these features can effectively contribute to Tinder’s revenue and is currently reassessing the model. It plans to relaunch coins and introduce virtual goods on Tinder in the second half of 2023.

“A lot of older people are using Tinder now,” Swidler said. “If you’re looking for somebody who is a teenager and you’re thinking what are they going to use in a year or two when they are dating app eligible? That’s the audience we have to be looking at, the Gen Z audience.”

Reaching that audience is a challenge. More than 90 per cent of that generation feel frustrated with dating apps, according to Gen Z research agency YouthSight. They also feel less inclined to be in a relationship, with 40 per cent of respondents saying they were “happily single”.

Millie Shields, a 24-year-old influencer who creates TikTok videos about dating, said Tinder has a negative reputation, known for hookups rather than long-term dating.

“[Young people] tend to want to meet someone organically rather than have it forced on a dating app,” she said, adding that many people just use Tinder for entertainment.

Swidler said this stereotype was “hard to shake” but that the platform had now evolved and it was focused on making it a safe and positive space, including through the launch of a female-oriented subscription later this year.

“The key thing is the user experience being up to standard, making sure you actually are tackling those issues that younger people are very upfront about [like] abuse, harassment and unpleasant experiences,” said Rebecca McGrath, a senior technology analyst at market research provider Mintel.

“Tinder has tried getting into these other areas like currency and talking about the metaverse and . . . that’s not necessarily where they need to be putting their focus.”

Match does not share demographic figures of age or gender for Tinder, but estimates from data company App Ape suggest that 76 per cent of US Tinder users are male. Rival app Bumble’s design means women must initiate conversations on the platform — only they can send the first message to potential suitors.

Bumble increased downloads by 20 per cent last year to 21.1mn, according to data.ai, while fledgling app Thursday, which encourages in-person meetings, increased from under 1,000 downloads in 2020 to more than 200,000 last year and a further 100,000 in the first quarter of this year.

The introduction of gaming-inspired features and new subscriptions is aimed at boosting revenue as Tinder’s model relies on users paying for subscriptions or one-off spending.

In the second quarter of this year, Tinder had 10.9mn paying users — up 14 per cent year on year — amounting to more than 60 per cent of the Match Group’s total paying users who spend a monthly average of $15.86 per person.

In comparison Bumble has more than 1.9mn paying users, spending an average of just under $30 per month.

Both Tinder and Bumble declined to provide figures for total users, including those using the app for free.

However, as the cost of living increases, consumers are cutting down on discretionary spending such as digital subscriptions, which the company anticipates will impact revenue.

“Paying even a small amount for online dating is probably for many people a fairly easy cut if they can have a fairly equivalent free experience,” McGrath added.

Swidler remains confident about Tinder’s outlook. “Tinder is still the largest dating business in the world,” he said. “And that has a significant advantage because if you want to meet people, the best place to go is where there’s a lot of people.”

Additional reporting by Dave Lee in San Francisco and Rafe Uddin in London

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Sister Patricia Daly, 66, Dies; Took On Corporate Giants on Social Justice



For years, Sister Pat and other environmentalists had urged ExxonMobil to take significant steps to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from its operations and products. In 2007, she proposed a resolution that called on that energy giant to set a firm date to report on its progress.

“We’re the most profitable company in the history of the planet,” she told Rex Tillerson, then the company’s chief executive (and later secretary of state in the Trump administration), at the company’s annual meeting, “but what will be our long-term health when we are really faced with the regulatory and other challenges around global warming?”

She added: “We are now, this company and every single one of us, challenged by one of the most profound moral concerns. And we have the wherewithal to respond to that.”

The proposal won 31 percent of the ballots, or about 1.4 billion shares, the largest tally for an ExxonMobil climate-change resolution. If not an outright victory, it was a page in a decades-long narrative that led ExxonMobil to put a climate scientist on its board in 2017. Three executives who recognized the urgency to address climate change joined the company’s board in 2021, nominated by a tiny activist hedge fund, Engine No. 1.

“The arc of her work led us to those victories by working from the inside and the outside,” John Passacantando, the founder of Ozone Action, an anti-global warming group, and a former executive director of Greenpeace, said in a phone interview.

In 1999, Vanity Fair named her to its Hall of Fame, applauding her as one who “translates belief into commitment and never backs down from a fight.”

Mary Beth Gallagher, who replaced Sister Pat as executive director of the Tri-State Coalition in 2017, said Sister Pat had not become frustrated when her resolutions were routinely voted down.

“She lived in hope,” Ms. Gallagher said. “We never talked about winning or losing. It was about raising consciousness and educating. If we’re not asking these questions, who will?”

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Families can make a tax-free rollover from 529 plans to Roth individual retirement accounts starting in 2024



Maskot | Maskot | Getty Images

Americans who save for college in 529 plans will soon have a way to rescue unused funds while keeping their tax benefits intact.

A $1.7 trillion government funding package has a provision that lets savers roll money from 529 plans to Roth individual retirement accounts free of income tax or tax penalties.

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The House passed the measure Friday and the Senate did so Thursday. The bill heads to President Biden, who’s expected to sign it into law.

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The rollover measure — which takes effect in 2024 — has some limitations. Among the largest: There’s a $35,000 lifetime cap on transfers.

“It’s a good provision for people who have [529 accounts] and the money hasn’t been used,” said Ed Slott, a certified public accountant and IRA expert based in Rockville Centre, New York.

That might happen if a beneficiary — such as a child or grandchild — doesn’t attend a college, university, vocational or private K-12 school, or other qualifying institution, for example. Or, a student may receive scholarships that mean some 529 funds are left over.

Millions of 529 accounts hold billions in savings

There were nearly 15 million 529 accounts at the end of last year, holding a total $480 billion, according to the Investment Company Institute. That’s an average of about $30,600 per account.

529 plans carry tax advantages for college savers. Namely, investment earnings on account contributions grow tax-free and aren’t taxable if used for qualifying education expenses like tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

Retirement plan changes in the omnibus spending bill

However, that investment growth is generally subject to income tax and a 10% tax penalty if used for an ineligible expense.

This is where rollovers to a Roth IRA can benefit savers with stranded 529 money. A transfer would skirt income tax and penalties; investments would keep growing tax-free in a Roth account, and future retirement withdrawals would also be tax-free.  

Some think it’s a handout for the rich

However, some critics think the rollover policy largely amounts to a tax handout to wealthier families.

“You’re giving savings incentives to those who can save and leaving behind those who cannot save,” said Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

A 2012 analysis conducted by the Government Accountability Office found the typical American with a 529 account had “much more wealth” than someone without: $413,500 in total wealth for the median person, about 25 times the amount of a non-accountholder.

You’re giving savings incentives to those who can save and leaving behind those who cannot save.

Steve Rosenthal

senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

Further, the typical owner had a roughly $142,000 annual income versus $45,000 for other families, the GAO report said. Almost half, 47%, had incomes over $150,000.

The new 529-to-Roth IRA transfer provision doesn’t carry income limits.

Limitations on 529-to-IRA transfers

While the new tax break primarily benefits wealthier families, there are “pretty significant” limitations on the rollovers that reduce the financial benefit, Jeffrey Levine, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant based in St. Louis, said in a tweet.

The restrictions include:

  • A $35,000 lifetime cap on transfers.
  • Rollovers are subject to the annual Roth IRA contribution limit. (The limit is $6,500 in 2023.)
  • The rollover can only be made to the beneficiary’s Roth IRA — not that of the account owner. (In other words, a 529 owned by a parent with the child as beneficiary would need to be rolled into the child’s IRA, not the parent’s.)
  • The 529 account must have been open for at least 15 years. (It seems changing account beneficiaries may restart that 15-year clock, Levine said.)
  • Accountholders can’t roll over contributions, or earnings on those contributions, made in the last five years.

In a summary document, the Senate Finance Committee said current 529 tax rules have “led to hesitating, delaying, or declining to fund 529s to levels needed to pay for the rising costs of education.”

“Families who sacrifice and save in 529 accounts should not be punished with tax and penalty years later if the beneficiary has found an alternative way to pay for their education,” it said.

Are 529 plans already flexible enough?

Some education savings experts think 529 accounts have adequate flexibility so as not to deter families from using them.

For example, owners with leftover account funds can change beneficiaries to another qualifying family member — thereby helping avoid a tax penalty for non-qualified withdrawals. Aside from a kid or grandkid, that family member might be you; a spouse; a son, daughter, brother, sister, father or mother-in-law; sibling or step-sibling; first cousin or their spouse; a niece, nephew or their spouse; or aunt and uncle, among others.

Owners can also keep funds in an account for a beneficiary’s graduate schooling or the education of a future grandchild, according to Savingforcollege.com. Funds can also be used to make up to $10,000 of student loan payments.

The tax penalty may also not be quite as bad as some think, according to education expert Mark Kantrowitz. For example, taxes are assessed at the beneficiary’s income-tax rate, which is generally lower than the parent’s tax rate by at least 10 percentage points.

In that case, the parent “is no worse off than they would have been had they saved in a taxable account,” depending on their tax rates on long-term capital gains, he said.

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Goldman grumbling grows for banking giant to sack CEO David Solomon



The knives are out for Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, and this time the people brandishing them aren’t the usual suspects — his junior staffers annoyed that they have to work late or come into the office several times a week.

Solomon’s problems are more serious and existential, I am told, and how he handles what can best be described as a revolt in some quarters of Goldman’s middle and upper management ranks could determine how much longer he stays in his job.

Solomon, 60, took the job in 2018 and was always somewhat of an odd choice to run the white-shoe investment bank that usually cultivated its leaders from within. He cut his teeth at a decidedly un-Goldman-like venue: the scrappy investment bank Bear Stearns (ultimately one of the causalities of the 2008 financial crisis).

He joined Goldman in 1999, as a partner, no less, because his deal-making chops allowed him to skip layers of management.

In other words, Solomon is an outsider at a firm with a wickedly insular culture. He has a quirky side gig as a DJ in the summer Hamptons party circuit. He’s also not one for small talk, and doesn’t consult with a lot of people before handing down his edicts. 

“He doesn’t breed a lot of love,” said one former Goldman executive who knows Solomon well.

Lots of people at Goldman don’t like him, and they’re letting their views be heard both internally and with pals at rival firms.

Solomon as a DJ
Solomon is an outsider at a firm with a wickedly insular culture.
David Solomon/Instagram

For the record: I’ve met Solomon and like him for his no-BS style. And until pretty recently, the numbers show him doing a great job. Goldman was running on all cylinders in deals and trading. Even as the market corrects, shares are up about 60% since Solomon took over as CEO in 2018 compared to around a 44% rise in the S&P during that time.

Goldman is still the top M&A shop, even widening its market share over rivals in that important business line. Solomon was the first among his fellow CEOs to see the downturn and enact significant layoffs to cut costs.

Still, the grumbling about Solomon is spreading to the managing director and partner class. High-priced Wall Street talent don’t call all the shots at any firm, of course. But Goldman’s MDs and partners have historically been a powerful force when the board decides the fate of current management, which makes Solomon’s hold on his job increasingly precarious as more and more of them defect from his camp.

David Solomon as a DJ
Solomon was the first among his fellow CEOs to see the downturn and enact significant layoffs to cut costs.
David Solomon/Instagram

Here’s how they’re building a case against him: Goldman’s longtime archrival investment bank Morgan Stanley now easily dwarfs Goldman in market value, $144 billion to $116 billion, continuing a trend that predates Solomon. That comes amid a slowdown in banking deals, Goldman’s bread-and-butter business, and Solomon’s home turf.

Morgan’s CEO James Gorman deftly expanded the firm’s wealth management operations, which provide steady revenues. Solomon’s effort to diversify was an overindulgence in something called Marcus, a digital retail bank launched by his predecessor Lloyd Bankfein that Solomon made his baby. So far, it’s been a disaster, so much so that Solomon has been forced to scale back, possibly on the way to winding it down.

Goldman, meanwhile, has missed targets in its recent earnings announcements, and more downward surprises could be in store as markets continue to wobble. Bonuses are down, in some places cut in half, albeit from the nosebleed levels of 2021.

Goldman Sachs headquarters
The grumbling about Solomon is spreading to the managing director and partner class.
AFP via Getty Images

Traders did well in 2022 because Goldman’s are particularly adept in profiting off turbulence, but part of their pool is being diverted to bankers to keep them in-house until the deal slowdown ends.

Since Solomon is a banker, he’s also being accused of favoritism, which in truth is a pretty lame charge, since bankers often subsidize trader bonuses when the markets aren’t profitable. Still, the Goldman trading department is powerful and can spark management change, as it has done in the past.

There’s also a question about Solomon’s allegiance to Goldman’s stand-alone culture. In its 153-year existence, Goldman has operated on the assumption that it would be the acquirer in any major strategic acquisition. Solomon’s experience at Bear, then one of the most transactional places on Wall Street, means he could be looking for a deal and not one that keeps Goldman in charge.

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman deftly expanded the firm’s wealth management operations, which provide steady revenues.
Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman deftly expanded the firm’s wealth management operations, which provide steady revenues.
AFP via Getty Images

At a time when most Goldman insiders believe he needs to do a “transformational deal,” i.e., something big that allows it to better compete against Morgan Stanley and super banks like JP Morgan, there is speculation that Solomon might allow Goldman to be swallowed whole by, say, a big asset manager or bank if the price was right.

As best I can tell, this grumbling, though real, doesn’t immediately threaten Solomon’s job. Then again, there is something to be said for keeping your producers happy.

Jack Welch, the legendary CEO of General Electric, was a notorious screamer and demanding beyond belief. Yet Welch knew how to nurture his people.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch
Jack Welch was a notorious screamer and demanding beyond belief. Yet Welch knew how to nurture his people.
Getty Images

“Jack could chew your ass, then put his arm around you and make you feel great,” one of his longtime executives, Bob Nardelli, once told me.

It’s why so many other talented execs chose to stay around under Welch, abuse and all, and left when his successor took over, watching GE implode from the outside.

Maybe it’s a good time for Solomon to take a page from Welch and start hugging it out.

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