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Tinder Buys Video-App Startup Wheel, Looking to Add Snapchat-Like Messaging

Variety logo Variety 2/16/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Tinder wants to bring Snapchat-style video messaging to one of the world’s biggest dating apps.

Tinder announced an agreement to acquire Wheel, an L.A.-based startup whose app lets users share collaborative, video-based “stories.” With the deal, Tinder plans to weave in video features, promising a new way for lonely-hearts to make love connections.

Terms are not being disclosed. Wheel, founded as Ferris in 2015 (get it?), had raised $2 million led by Upfront Ventures’ Mark Suster with participation from Machinima founder Allen DeBevoise and other investors.

Wheel CEO Paul Boukadakis (above left) is joining Tinder as VP of special initiatives and CTO Chris Shaheen (above right) will step into a senior role on Tinder’s engineering team. Wheel’s two other co-founders, Joey Boukadakis and Brian Daugherty, also are joining Tinder, which has around 200 employees.

As of the end of 2016, Tinder reported 1.7 million paying users, more than doubling from 800,000 a year earlier. Tinder is part of Match Group — a collection of 45 dating services including Match, OkCupid and OurTime — which is majority-owned by Barry Diller’s IAC but is a separate, publicly traded entity. Match Group also operates the Princeton Review test-prep service.

“We are always exploring new ways to innovate while helping our users make connections on Tinder,” Brian Norgard, Tinder’s head of product and revenue, said in announcing the Wheel deal. “I’m excited Paul is joining our product team to drive special initiatives that leverage his experience connecting people around innovative content.”

Tinder launched in 2012 and acquired a reputation as a way to facilitate quick hookups. The app lets users “swipe right” if they find someone’s profile pic and interests appealing, and connecting the two for a private chat if the feeling is mutual.

The Tinder Plus service, which starts at $10 per month, offers enhanced features designed to boost a user’s matchmaking rate. Currently, the company says its app makes 26 million matches daily with more than 20 billion made to date.

Pictured above: Wheel co-founders Paul Boukadakis (left) and Chris Shaheen

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