- Reuters/Leah Millis
- Happn is the latest dating service to pile onto Facebook after the company decided it would get into dating.
- Happn CEO Didier Rappaport said it was curious that Facebook had announced the news only weeks after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
- He said it might be a way to make the bad news disappear.
- Rappaport’s comments came after Facebook’s announcement sent the stock price for Match, which owns Tinder, plummeting.
The CEO of dating app Happn thinks Facebook has an ulterior motive for announcing a brand new dating service.
In an interview with Business Insider, Didier Rappaport said social networking and dating were totally different – and that Facebook was trying to distract from its privacy problems.
He said: “I have been quite surprised that Facebook would launch a dating service. The DNA of a social network and dating service are totally opposite. People like to share lots of things with their friends and family, but not what concerns their private life and dates.”
“It’s quite interesting to note this announcement has been done just a few weeks after the Cambridge Analytica concerns,” Rappaport added, suggesting it was a way to make the bad news “disappear,” so Facebook doesn’t have to “talk about the past.”
Facebook announced at its annual F8 developer conference that it would add dating features to the existing Facebook mobile app, but hasn’t given many details. The company promised it would respect people’s privacy, and that it wouldn’t show friends as prospective matches.
Still, observers noted the irony of Facebook announcing a dating service both as it tries to move past the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, and after it fired an employee for allegedly stalking women online.
IAC, the parent company of Match Group, issued a barbed response to the news on Tuesday, riffing on Russian groups using Facebook to spread misinformation. Match Group owns big dating services such as OKCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Tinder. “Come on in,” CEO Joey Levin said. “The water’s warm. Their product could be great for US/Russia relationships.”
Nonetheless, Match Group’s stock cratered on Wednesday. Happn might be a private company, but it’s possible that Facebook’s move into the dating space could torpedo the competition.
Rappaport is, outwardly, not concerned. “Ok, it would be one more competitor,” he said. “Maybe a big one – we don’t know. We don’t know the reaction of Facebook users, if they will agree to mix their social lives with their private lives.”
He said Happn had almost 50 million registered users, and 7 million monthly active users. It recently moved into subscriptions and, while it doesn’t disclose revenue, is profitable.
“They bought WhatsApp, they bought Instagram, that’s usually the way they [approach it.] Here, it’s like they need to do something inside Facebook to re-increase the usage of Facebook. And that’s probably why they haven’t tried to buy any other app,” he said.
Happn remains open-minded about being acquired
When Business Insider interviewed Rappaport in April 2017, he hinted at acquisition offers for Happn.
Asked on Thursday whether the firm might seek a buyer or more venture capital funding, Rappaport said: “There are not so many dating apps out there that are at global scale and independent – in a world of … consolidation, Happn could be a target.
“Now, this is not something we have in mind, we want to continue our growth. How we will develop Happn in the next few years – in partnership with a giant – we don’t know today.”