Tinder founder Sean Rad has accused former Match Group CEO Greg Blatt of grabbing and intimidating him during a break on Monday in the ongoing trial over whether Match and IAC/InterActiveCorp. purposely tanked a valuation of the popular dating app. Rad’s allegations have sparked bullying claims, although Blatt said the contact was innocuous.
The purported altercation came to light Monday morning, after an attorney for the Tinder founders, Joshua Dubin, told New York Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen outside the presence of the jury that Blatt had approached Rad, grabbed his arm, pulled him in close and said, “You been lifting?”
“He came down and grabbed me very hard,” Rad told New York state court Judge Joel Cohen. “I went a little blank, but that was absolutely designed to intimidate me.” Rad’s lawyers said Blatt “crossed the line” by squeezing and pulling their client’s arm, while remarking that he had been “lifting,” but that it was in keeping with how the CEO had bullied and intimidated others during the valuation process.
In the underlying lawsuit, Rad and other Tinder founders contend that executives of Barry Diller’s IAC and Match, which owned Tinder, schemed to deprive them of their rightful share stock options by deceiving Barclays and Deutsche Bank into delivering a stripped down valuation of Tinder that depressed the options’ value.
The judge declined to allow Rad’s lawyers to question Blatt about the encounter in front of jury, but he warned Blatt not to make further contact with the plaintiffs or their lawyers.
The altercation is just the latest in a long line of flash points during the trial between the Tinder founders and the Match Group, where the founders have accused the Match Group of deliberately undervaluing the company when they cashed in their stock options in 2017. Read the latest trial updates here.