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Match Group CEO Sam Yagan Has All Competitor Apps On His Phone

Sam Yagan 2

The Match Group CEO Sam Yagan recently appeared on public radio, speaking thoughtfully about online dating, and what it’s like being an industry leader.

Talking to Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins, the OkCupid co-founder spoke about approaching online dating as a search problem, the comparisons between dating and Google, and how he keeps up to date with The Match Group’s competitors.

You can listen to the 10 minute segment here, and we have also collected a few of Yagan’s choice quotes from the interview below:

On approaching dating as a search problem

“Fundamentally we think of it more of a search problem, and when you’re doing a search problem, you want as much data on the search pool. The larger the pool you have to select from, the more likely you are to find the most compatible person for you, if you have the right algorithms working on your behalf.

“If you just have a very large search pool, and you don’t have good data, then you’re just fishing in a big pond and you don’t have any way to know that you’re going to get a good catch. I think it’s unrealistic to say that we can look through millions of people and find the one person who is best for you, but what we can do is of these millions of people, here are the top 100 that might be the best for you to look through, and here are the bottom 1,000, or 100,000, that you shouldn’t waste your time with.

“That level of granularity – sort of picking the most likely and the least likely – that’s something that an algorithm can do really well. Predicting chemistry: “who is the one”, is something we’re probably decades away from being able to do online.”

Comparisons between online dating and Google

“I think it’s as simple as looking at something like Google – nobody ever clicks the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, because there are billions of pages on the internet, and although you trust Google tremendously, you don’t just want to go to the one page they want to send you to, you want to take those billion pages and say: “here are the ten that are most likely to have the information you’re looking for”. You want to be able to sort through – maybe click the first one, maybe click the second, maybe go to the second page.

“That same logic makes sense, in fact even more so when you’re looking for something as intangible and hard to put your finger on as a romantic chemistry, you need even more property to choose from than just the top 10.”

On staying a market leader

“The most important thing culturally, is you have to be willing to take risks and to fail. When you become an industry leader, there tends to be a risk aversion that you get because you’ve gotten successful and in many ways, the cost of making a mistake is so high, but we’re up against competitors who are much smaller than us, and who can take those risks, and who can try new things that the industry leaders aren’t doing.

“We try to make sure we are doing those things. That starts by setting the right culture, and then after that it’s making sure you have thought leaders, who are out there pushing the envelope trying to do great things, and Tinder is an example – a startup that has really innovated in this space.”

On using his competitor’s products

“The second is to make sure you’re always using competitive products. I think that’s something industry leaders sometimes don’t do. They sometimes assume they’re the ones setting the trends and doing the innovating, and me, I use our competitors’ products as much as we use our own. I have all of our competitors’ apps on my phone, whenever I have down time I’m constantly using those products and figuring out what are the things they’re innovating on, and what are the things they’re doing.”

Keeping up to date with technology

“The third is just generally staying current on technology and really trying to think not just in our category, but looking at what people are doing in other categories, and thinking what are the applications of something someone’s doing in a different vertical, in a different industry to dating.”

Simon Edmunds

Simon is the former editor of Global Dating Insights. Born in Newcastle, he has an English degree from Queen Mary, London and after working for the NHS, trained as a journalist with the Press Association. Passionate about music, journalism and Newcastle United.

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