Whitney Wolfe and Justin Mateen co-founded dating app Tinder. They dated on and off for a year. Then they broke up.
When the break up turned ugly, Wolfe says she was called things such as a “slut” and a “liar.” Now she’s suing Tinder for sexual harassment.
In 2012, dating application Tinder was born in a Los Angeles IAC startup incubator, Hatch Labs. It was a pivot from a customer loyalty startup, Cardify, that failed to gain traction.
One of the Cardify team members, 24-year-old Whitney Wolfe, took the idea for Tinder under her wing. She says she came up with the name of the app and initially promoted it on college campuses. She was given a co-founder title.
Then, her direct manager and fellow co-founder, Justin Mateen, allegedly took a liking to her. The pair dated in February 2013 and dated on and off for the remainder of the year. Wolfe says her relationship with Mateen ended for good when he became “verbally controlling and abusive.” The way he acted after their break up allegedly forced her to resign from the company.
Now, Wolfe alleges she was sexually harassed by Mateen and CEO Sean Rad during the majority of her employment at Tinder. She claims they revoked her co-founder status because five founders was “too many” and because she’s a woman. Further, Mateen allegedly told Wolfe it was “slutty” to be the co-founder of a “hook up” app like Tinder.
Mateen allegedly told Wolfe it was “slutty” to be the co-founder of a “hook up” app like Tinder.
“Mr. Mateen tried to justify the situation by saying ‘Facebook and Snapchat doesn’t have girl founders, it just makes it look like Tinder was some accident,'” the lawsuit states.
At the end of 2013, when Wolfe and Mateen ended their relationship for good, Wolfe says the sexual harassment got much worse. Mateen allegedly sent scathing, jealous texts. When Wolfe complained to Rad and Match.com CEO Sam Yagan, she says they didn’t care. Eventually she says she was forced to resign.
Texts in the lawsuit paint a nasty, jealous breakup between Wolfe and Mateen that would be difficult to stomach outside of the work place, and absolutely inappropriate between co-workers.
Here’s what transpired, as told through Wolfe’s texts…
(Tinder has not responded for comment)
Wolfe's stock hadn't vested yet. Rad informed her that if she quit, she wouldn't get the unvested stock (which is typical at a startup).
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