In October, once-hot dating startup Hinge launched a totally new app focused on relationships (versus hookups), which the team had been secretly devoting the bulk of its energy to for almost a year.
The shift in direction had been prompted by an August 2015 article in Vanity Fair, which painted the modern dating scene, fuelled by apps, as an apocalyptic wasteland where people move from one casually dehumanising experience to another. Hinge was part of it, and CEO Justin McLeod wanted a change.
The fruits of McLeod’s decision were unveiled mid-October, and Hinge’s new app had a few features that set it apart from competitors like Tinder and Bumble. The most significant departure, however, was that after a free trial everyone on Hinge would have to pay $7 per month.
“It makes sure everyone has some skin in the game,” McLeod told Business Insider last month. McLeod was shunning the freemium model used by his competitors, where you have to pay to get more swipes or advanced features. His reason: He said the people who pay tended to be “power users” of swiping apps — the exact kinds of daters that Vanity Fair took aim at. That type of monetisation won’t help him build a different Hinge community this time around.
Now it seems that Hinge has had a change of heart, and is not going to force everyone to pay. On Wednesday, I received this note when I opened the app.
“As an Early Member, you’ve helped create a community of people who want more,” the note reads. “To thank you, we’d like to give you Hinge free, forever.” What Hinge is offering me is a “Basic Membership,” a free tier that keeps me in the app, but has limited features. In a word: freemium — like Tinder, Bumble, and so on.
Here’s a description of the new “Basic Membership”:
- For Early Members only
- Free forever
- 10 people per day
- Limited preferences
The big question with the Hinge relaunch was whether the company could get their users to pay $7 a month for the service — or whether they would cancel once the free trial was up. McLeod was quick to point out that Hinge’s monthly fee is a lot cheaper than Match.com ($42) and eHarmony ($60), but Hinge appeals to a much younger demographic, most of whom aren’t used to paying for a dating app.
Now we’ll never know whether Hinge users would have paid up, and it seems Hinge doesn’t want to find out.
Here is a screenshot of the note:
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