Tinder founders Sean Rad and Justin Mateen have invested in a new startup called Lover, raising eyebrows for its mission of “not just dating, but also sex and liberation.” Led by author and sex addiction expert Kelly Tarr (Took Turns With God: How I Bounced Back from My Abusive Marriage, My Sex Addiction, and My Mixed-Up Journey to Freedom), the new app aims to be a connected, entertaining resource for discussing sex in everyday life.
Lover is offering a slew of socially curated daily news feeds with topics like the best role play for guys, proper foreplay for couples, and porn etiquette. It also displays other content — vlogs, stories, tweets — to help users see everything in one location. The app first launched in August, but a new update lets users see how they’re liking it.
Although the app’s Instagram-style layout seems a bit dated, the content is compelling and people are reacting positively.
Lover’s monetization model is to co-brand advertisements with the content in its dedicated section of the app. Tinder or OkCupid could quickly buy a package that would enable users to upgrade to its service and get more content.
Tarr tells me she noticed how much confusion surrounds sex and society’s relationship with it. She believes people want a broader discussion of “how we bring pleasure into the world, and how it’s important to create societies that are led by consent, not by domination.” Right now, “the conversation doesn’t have enough conversation about pleasure.”
Tarr says what she wanted to add to the conversation was about how to keep sex safe and empathetic, how to talk about boundaries and get consent, how to let sex lead the intimacy, how to set limits, consent in fantasy, and the hard work of being an adult.
The startup has to overcome the hurdle of pushing sex content in a subject that people are uncomfortable talking about. Remember, at one point after Tinder’s launch, many media outlets used the term “hookup” to describe a hookup without consent. People have a sneaking suspicion that Dating + Adult Content might be too provocative for the public.
Tarr says it’s vital that the app’s publication be “a thoughtful examination of topics, with a good layout and good content” to let people know “if someone thinks they’re going to pick on or judge, they’re going to make a fool of themselves.”
[Editor’s Note: Love was real for Badoo co-founder Marcus Schneider in 2014 after the startup acquired the Stripe-backed dating app he founded called Xing, which let you chat with singles all over the world. After Schneider walked the walk by giving Xing $100,000 seed money, Schneider and his team sold it to LinkedIn for $400 million.]
[Update: As mentioned, Tinder founders Rad and Mateen have invested in Lover. The question is whether or not the timing has anything to do with the round being pulled from the Tinder VC Fund because of a change in strategy at Match.com.]