Match Group and the media brand Betches are partnering to launch an iOS dating app that allows users to help their friends pick out potential dates. The app is called Ship, and it lets users swipe for their friends and chat about profiles, so even if your best friend is in a relationship, he or she can download the app and look around for you. (Your mom could, too.)
Ship could stand out by creating a different behavior than we’re used to on most dating apps. More importantly, it comes from the popular, female-oriented content machine Betches, which produces a website, Instagram account, and podcast, among other things. It has a massive following across various platforms.
The app, which launches today, allows a single user to create a group of people who are allowed to swipe for them. They’re all put together in a group chat within the app where they can discuss profiles, share GIFs, and talk more generally.
Friends will see profiles based on their single’s friend’s preferences. So if the single person only wants to see matches four miles away from them, the app will show their friends people four miles from wherever they’re located. If a friend sees someone they think would be a good match, they can swipe right on them, bringing their profile into the group chat. The app still requires the single person and the potential match to like each other before they can chat.
This isn’t the first time an app like this has come around. Another company, called Wingman, offers a similar concept. More broadly, people have voiced that they want to swipe with friends, so apps like Tinder (another Match Group entity) responded with things like an Apple TV version for more public swiping.
Betches’ co-founders tell me that Match supplies the tech expertise for Ship while they provide the branding, marketing, and bigger idea. They wouldn’t say whether they were being paid in Match stock or some other revenue-sharing model. But it’s clear that Match is deeply involved: one portion of Ship’s website mistakenly calls the app by another Match Group app name, Hinge, so they’re using language from other apps and presumably relying on tested dating app technology.
What differentiates this Match launch from any other is that Betches already has a built-in, dedicated audience. The company has more than 6 million Instagram followers, and it says 3 million unique visitors come to the site monthly. Match is likely leveraging that built-in group to see if they can serve as a pool of daters from the onset. For now, there isn’t a revenue model for Ship, although that’ll probably change, assuming it attracts enough people to be successful.
Of course, it’s relatively easy to build and place a dating app in the App Store in 2019, but actually luring users is a challenge. The encouraging news for Ship is that many people use multiple dating apps — there’s not just one app that’ll win out over any other — and given that Betches’ audience loves Betches, maybe this will work out.