Tinder Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit With Cofounder


A top executive of Tinder, a software dating application for mobile devices, has resigned from the company in the midst of its settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit presented by co-founder and vice president Whitney Wolfe. Justin Mateen, another co-founder and the company’s chief marketing officer, was accused by Wolfe of publicly defaming her with terms like “desperate slut,” “whore,” and “gold digger.”

Tinder is majority owned by InterActiveCorps (IAC), whose Chairman and Senior Executive is Barry Diller, the person responsible for the creation of Fox Broadcasting Company and the Chairman of Expedia. Wolfe claimed in the suit that Mateen made some of his disparaging remarks before Sean Rad, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). She said the behaviors he displayed were characteristic of the company’s “frat-like” culture. Wolfe’s lawsuit also said that the CEO of Tinder, Sean Rad, ignored her complaints.

Upon presentation of the lawsuit, IAC immediately suspended Mateen and reportedly began an internal investigation. Wolfe alleged in her June lawsuit that she was pressured to quit after she complained about Mateen’s behavior. Settled Sept. 8, the suit alleged that such behavior included racist, sexist and otherwise inappropriate verbal comments, as well as via emails and text messages. Her title of “co-founder” was also taken away. Lawsuit records show Mateen saying that having a 24-year-old-girl co-founder was “like a joke.” Wolfe said Mateen typified the “misogynist, alpha-male stereotype” that pervaded Tinder.

Justin Mateen

The Tinder application assists those hoping to meet a new partner by displaying one or more photos of prospects. The user then attaches a yes or no to that person. If both people provide a yes, the app then allows for the possibility of communication between the two people.

It was Whitney Wolfe who came up with Tinder’s name once it was determined that the original idea, Matchbox, was too similar to Match, a competing dating site. Wolfe and Mateen dated for an unknown period. Wolfe said in her suit that  she was pushed out of the business only after she told CEO Rad about the verbal debasements.

Another allegation is that, during a company meeting, Mateen described Wolfe to their colleagues as “a desperate loser.” He also told Rad and others that Wolfe was alcoholic. One of the numerous texts and emails included in the lawsuit shows Mateen referring to Wolfe as a “liberal lying desperate slut.” Upon complaining to Rad about this, Wolfe said he called her “a dramatic … emotional girl.” The last straw came for Wolfe, which resulted in her resignation, came after Mateen, before others, referred to her as a whore.

Sexual harassment issues have confounded Silicon Valley for some time. Recent accusations against Github, a hosting service for software developers, triggered an internal inquiry that found no such evidence of but recognized errors in judgment and mistakes. In another the leader of an image messaging app named Snapchat, Evan Spiegel, apologized for the explicit and demeaning email messages he sent to students at Stanford University.

By Gregory Baskin

Related Article:

Guardian Liberty Voice – Tinder CoFounder Alleges VP Called Her “Slut”

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