Tinder CEO Sean Rad opened up on Wednesday about being fired from the CEO role at the company he cofounded.
His demotion in November 2014, to president reportedly came after Tinder parent company IAC was looking for a more experienced “Eric Schmidt-like person” as the company’s next CEO.
It also came in the wake of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Tinder’s ousted cofounder Whitney Wolfe, who accused Rad, as well as cofounder Justin Mateen, of sexually harassing her. The suit was settled in September 2014, without admission of wrongdoing.
Speaking on stage at Advertising Week Europe in London on Wednesday, Rad — who returned as Tinder CEO in August last year — said his removal from the CEO role was a “surprise” as the company was doing well and growing fast.
But he said the board had fears that Rad, at that time aged just 28, would be able to manage that growth.
“Frankly, I had fears: I didn’t know I could manage this growth,” Rad said.
But Rad gives the impression he’s not bitter about his demotion any more. He says it gave him the opportunity to “pause.”
“In hindsight, being fired is one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Rad said.
Rad on leadership
He added: “I was able to take a step back and really embrace the things that I was good at and then kind of admit and recognise the things I wasn’t good at. And in that, recognising that being a leader doesn’t mean you’re good at everything, it means the opposite. Being a great CEO means you have the ability to chart a course, find a destination, recruit a team that each have their strengths and weaknesses, but in concert can reach that destination.”
And regardless of how the board felt about Rad in the top job, he felt he couldn’t leave the company.
“I stayed because I believe in Tinder and I want to contribute in any way. If the best way to contribute is to mop the floors, I would. It’s really about helping building this platform. That’s our job,” he said.
Rad now said he’s back and feeling “more ready than ever.”
“I think there was a relief, a little bit, when they asked me to come back. Naturally I had all these ideas, I had problems I want to solve, and when you’re in a different position it’s harder to have your input because you don’t want to step on other people’s toes,” Rad added.
Why Tinder offered a woman thrown out of her sorority a scholarship and an internship
Tinder was in the press this week after it offered a woman a scholarship and internship after she was allegedly kicked out of her University of Nebraska sorority over a photo she posted to the app. The sorority deemed the picture in violation of its “human dignity” rule, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Rad said there were two reasons why Tinder offered the internship and to pay for the rest of her college fees.
“She was so articulate when it came to describing what Tinder is. She really understood it. I was shocked. I was like wow. Usually you think about it all day, like employees do, but she understood it so well this is someone who should come work here, we can learn from her, she can help us grow,” Rad said.
And the second reason: “It just pissed me off that the sorority was so closed-minded and I was so amazed by her that she stood up, that she spoke against no-one trying to confine her, and I think she should be rewarded for that and recognised for that.”