“We are going to witness the greatest handcuff season of all time”

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Americans are emerging from the pandemic eager to reconnect with friends and family – and strangers.

That last part is great news for dating apps.

And while summer is usually a time for casual dating, Match CEO (MTCH) Hesam Hosseini believes fall 2021 looks to be particularly good for more serious relationships to flourish.

“Our role is really to help you find one, find a meaningful connection,” Hosseini said in an interview with Yahoo Finance (video above). “We’re actually doubling down. You know, this summer is a mixed bag. We actually anticipate that in the fall we’re going to see the biggest handcuff season ever.”

The “handcuff season” – defined as the time of year when “singles begin to seek short-term partnerships to make it through the colder months of the year” – has been contested by the company in large part in 2020, and Match sees pent-up demand for people looking to make deeper connections.

“It’s been an interesting year … being single,” Hosseini said. “For some, the pandemic was really a time of reflection. As they go back and start to come out, they are looking for something meaningful. For others it has been a year with frankly a lack of privacy and they are looking for something meaningful. something more fun and more laid back this summer. “

A couple sits at an outdoor restaurant on Memorial Day weekend on May 29, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images)

Hosseini, who has been part of the Match ecosystem since August 2008, said he had not seen the company “providing such an essential service as last year”. Amid the pandemic, Match added several video chats and other COVID-specific features.

“At the height of the pandemic, when people were hesitant and still wanted to go out but didn’t know how to stay safe, we launched a feature that allowed them to disclose their dating preferences like…“ Do you still wear a mask? Are you distancing? Is a hello hug okay? ”He explained, adding that the features allowed users to eliminate“ that awkward COVID talk ”.

Match will soon offer US users the option of displaying “vaccinated badges” on their profiles. And in Partnership with the White House, the dating juggernaut offers free “Super Likes” and other boosts for users who claim to be vaccinated. The campaign will last until July 4, which President Biden has set as a deadline for 70% of Americans to be fully or partially immunized.

As of June 4, 63% of U.S. adults had received at least one vaccine, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 tracker. The Biden administration, along with private sector companies, have tried to get more Americans to get vaccinated with everything from free donuts and beer to child care.

(Source: Apptopia / Yahoo Finance)

(Source: Apptopia / Yahoo Finance)

“At Match in particular, we’ve seen a double-digit increase in user engagement early in the pandemic,” Hosseini said. “And in the last few months, as the country has opened up, we’ve seen a further double-digit increase in stats like messaging on our platform.”

The company had a better-than-expected first quarter, with revenue up 23% year-over-year to $ 668 million. Tinder, perhaps the app most closely associated with Connections in the Match Group portfolio, grew 18% and non-Tinder brands, posted a growth rate of 30%, the highest since last year. The company’s IPO in 2015. Match competitor Bumble (BMBL) also shattered first-quarter revenue expectations, making a profit for the first time.

The reopening and the resulting increase in social connections and dating – both online and in person – are powerful tailwinds for those working in the field of love.

“The match is built for meaningful relationships,” Hosseini said. “And for those looking for that, we’re here. If you want to casually hang out and hang out this summer, that’s totally cool with us. Come see us in three months when you’re ready. [for cuffing season]. “

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s correspondent for the West Coast. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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