Tinder CEO Sean Rad is not just a social tech visionary, he is also perhaps the greatest interview subject of his generation.
He is as comfortable quoting incorrect user numbers as he is wrongly defining the meaning of the word "sodomy," and he is commendably open on the subject of of his own sexual history. Unfortunately, Rad's sense of timing is not as awesome as his interview skills, and his boss Barry Diller has had to alert the SEC about Rad's antics while also - presumably - reaching for the TUMS
But good news for Rad fans; the man is back in the press, and he is willing to admit that he maybe/kinda/definitely needs to take things down a notch... or fifty.
Rad insists that in the interview some of his more explosive quotes were taken out of context (an Evening Standard editor says the publication stands by its story). "It’s fucked up, because I’m dealing with all of these stereotypes," he says. "Because I’m a successful guy in tech I must be a douche bag. Because I run a dating app I must be a womanizer. At the same time, I fucked up. I should know better as a CEO."
That flash of insight suggests he could now adopt an image more in keeping with the top executive of a hot company with big plans and enthusiastic investors. Is Sean Rad finally ready to grow up? Well . . . maybe. Though he describes the incident as a "wake-up call," he also says that "it’s not that I’m ever going to stop being myself. It’s that I’ve got to get better at framing what I’m trying to say. My responsibility as a CEO—and to myself—is to continue being myself. I’ve got to do better. Because these fucking last few days were a distraction. What has really sunk in is that I need to leave very little room for misinterpretation of what I’m trying to say." He says doing that newspaper interview was "irresponsible" and that "I will never put myself in that position again."
Hey, Sean Rad's gonna be Rad as Sean can be, that's just how it is. That said, he knows he has to tone it down a bit and be the kind of guy that be trusted as the officer of a publicly-traded company.
Did he turn over his new leaf with this interview? You be the judge...
It’s a Monday evening in mid-October at Craig’s, a dimly lit West Hollywood hot spot where paparazzi track every arriving Uber, and Rad can’t believe how attractive the women in his Tinder feed are. He swipes through endless photos while sipping his usual dirty martini, grinning like a kid. "What the fuck?!" he says. "This is nuts!"
Hmm... But what about the romance, Sean?
He grabs my phone and starts shuffling through photos on my behalf—picture after picture, complete with running commentary. "Have you ever seen this many hot girls?" he says. "It’s like five hot girls in a row!" He finally stops on one. "Wow, she’s gorgeous. She’s a DJ! This might be your wife."
Speaking of wives...
"How much would you pay me to meet your wife?" Rad says, justifying the value proposition. "Ten thousand dollars? Twenty thousand dollars? Some people would probably give me their entire net worth."
But aside from being horny and romantic, Sean is also competitive...
LinkedIn has built a business valued at $32 billion out of connections and communication, yet as Rad points out, "LinkedIn sucks for meeting new people. It’s actually impossible to meet people on LinkedIn."
"We have the potential to grab a massive audience as big as Instagram’s or Snapchat’s, but the value we’re giving is so much greater than any of these social apps," he says. "The matches made on Tinder can change lives. The Snapchat photo from two hours ago—who gives a fuck?"
But seriously guys, Sean has learned his lesson about saying stuff that will get him f@cked over by reporters...
Rad, who barely touches his food, is more careful than usual, constantly jumping on and off the record. He clearly feels burned by the recent bad press. "Just please don’t fuck me," he says at one point. At another he tells me, "I don’t know what I’m allowed to say. I’m learning now."