Match Group is going steady with AI, appoints Zynga alum to lead AI-focused team

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Match Group is going steady with AI, appoints Zynga alum to lead AI-focused team

Match Group, the company behind dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid, is getting serious about its relationship with AI.

After toying with some AI-powered features on Tinder, Match Group is taking things to the next level by appointing former Zynga head of growth Mark Kantor as vice president of innovation. Kantor, who also co-founded startups like Yellowbrick and Graffiti, will lead a small team of engineers and designers focused on bringing new technologies to Match Group’s apps.

“Harnessing our emerging generative AI solutions will be one key focus area, as we explore ways to make it easier for users to engage in dating apps, provide tools to help users showcase their individuality, and further enhance the safety and accessibility of our apps,” wrote CTO Will Wu in an internal memo, which was provided to TechCrunch. Match Group is calling Kantor’s team ASL, which stands for “Art x Science Lab” and is a nod to the retro internet pickup line, “ASL?” (age, sex, location).

Match has already begun working on some AI tools. Recently, Tinder announced it would test an AI photo selection feature, which looks at users’ photo albums to pick the photos that would perform best on the app. At a Reuters event last month, Tinder CPO Mark Van Ryswyk hinted at the idea that users could write their dating bios with generative AI . . . which may sound kind of icky, but then again, people are writing wedding vows on ChatGPT, so it seems some people are into that.

The idea of AI-powered dating might feel concerning for consumers who want their online dating experiences to feel as authentic as possible. But Match Group is trying to make sure that its innovations don’t come across as too disingenuous.

“It’s imperative that our features and tools enhance trust, authenticity and respect and, ultimately, lead to better matches and dates in real life,” CEO Bernard Kim said on Match Group’s last earnings call. “By the end of the year, we expect to have launched a number of initiatives that will use generative AI to eliminate awkwardness, make dating more rewarding and surprise and delight users, all in a way that focuses on authenticity and maintaining the highest ethical and privacy standards.”

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