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Tinder rehires ex-CEO Sean Rad months after he lost the job

Rad had been forced out after a sexual harassment suit, but is already being put back in charge

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
August 13, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3f77

2015 has been the year of the comeback CEO. Three times so far have CEOs who left the company, either by their own accord or otherwise, have returned. All three also happen to be founders of their respective companies: Mark Pincus at ZyngaJack Dorsey at Twitter and now the most surprising one of all: Sean Rad at Tinder.

That's right, the founder of the company is already coming back to his old position only five months after losing it, according to a report from Re/Code on Wednesday.

That means that Rad's replacement, Chris Payne, who is a former executive at eBay and Microsoft is out. Rad's return isn't the only shakeup: Greg Blatt, an executive at Tinder's parent company IAC is being named executive chairman of Tinder.

According to what Matt Cohler, a board member at Tinder, told Re/Code, the decision to replace Payne came quickly.

It became clear after a few months that it wasn’t going to become a long-term fit. It’s only been a few months, but everyone came to the realization, the board and Christopher, and all agreed it wouldn’t work out long-term,” Cohler said. “Given that, we thought we might as well take action on this sooner than later.”

No matter what anyone says, it honestly never much seemed like Tinder was actually interested in replacing Rad. That is especially true considering that he officially lost his job in November of last year, but was not replaced until March of this year, and that he kept the job in between those two events, rather than be replaced by an interim CEO, as seems to be the usual practice. Once Payne came on, Rad remained with Tinder as its president and a member of the board of directors. Now he is now back less than six months later.

Firing Rad merely seemed like damage control over a very public sexual harassment claim last year from company co-founder and former VP of marketing Whitney Wolfe.

Wolfe filed a lawsuit against her former company in June, alleging a series of incidents of harassment from the company's chief marketing officer, Justin Mateen, who she had previously had a relationship with.

Mateen was accused of not only removing Wolfe's title as co-founder because of her gender, but also of publicly insulting her, including calling Wolfe both a slut and a whore in front of other team members. Rad, who allegedly ignored Wolfe's complaints about Mateen, was also named in the suit, as was Match.com, whose CEO Sam Yagan was also accused by Wolfe of doing nothing about Mateen's behavior.

There was ample evidence that these incidents with Mateen occurred, including a series of harassing text messages sent from Mateen to Wolfe during this time period, which included repeated threats.

But Rad's involvement goes even further than simply ignoring the problematic behavior of his employee and friend: shortly after their breakup, Mateen stripped Wolfe of her co-founder status. When Wolfe protested, both Mateen and Sean Rad allegedly told Wolfe that she would accept their decision or be fired. 

Tinder settled the sexual harassment claim in September, with the company having not actually admitted any wrongdoing. By then Mateen was already out but Rad's reputation seemed to be damaged as well by what happened. It also looked like IAC had lost faith in him. Now it seems like the company was simply biding its time until the whole thing blew over.

Or maybe there was something else that pushed Payne out the door. This also happens to be the week that Tinder was, once again, in the news for all the wrong reasons, having gone on a big rant on Twitter over Vanity Fair over an article entitled " "Tinder and the Dawn of the 'Dating Apocalypse," from reporter Nancy Jo Sales. 

"If you want to try to tear us down with one-sided journalism, well, that’s your prerogative," read one tweet. The company, after it calmed down, admitted that it had "overreacted" in regards to the story.

There's nothing to indicate that Payne had anything to do with that, but it seems like Tinder is always getting itself into hot water over something, no matter who is at the helm. Maybe the problem isn't who is or is not in charge. You hear a lot about "culture" at Silicon Valley companies. That seems to be what is driving these problems over at Tinder. 

VatorNews has reached out to Tinder and IAC for confirmation of this report. We will update this story if we learn more. 

(Image source: nypost.com)


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