Mobile dating app Tinder is in talks to raise a big round of funding from Benchmark, according to sources. We’ve heard the deal, which could still fall through due to complications around ownership structure of the company, would value the company north of $750 million and could reach up to $1 billion.
Silicon Valley investors have been circling the fast-growing, two-year old company for a while now, but their ability to invest has been hampered by Tinder’s relationship with Barry Diller’s IAC. That’s because Tinder was incubated out of IAC’s Hatch Labs in 2012, and the internet conglomerate still owns a majority stake in the company.
In an interview today at Disrupt SF, Tinder CEO Sean Rad said the company hasn’t raised any outside funding… yet. But it’s something the company is at least considering. “We are in a fortunate position that we have internal sources of funding,” he said on stage. “We don’t need to raise outside capital, but it’s something we think about often.”
A new round of funding could be attractive to Tinder, however, in giving the company a little bit more independence and a little more control over its own destiny. Sources have confirmed an earlier report that Benchmark general partner Matt Cohler is looking to make an investment valuing the company between $750 million and $1 billion. But there are questions about the structure of the deal, which could ultimately undermine its completion.
Cohler has been incredibly successful with his investments, backing Instagram, Dropbox, Asana, Zendesk, and Domo, among others. With a background from Facebook and LinkedIn, he could provide valuable guidance to the social dating company. While Rad wouldn’t discuss Cohler specifically, he admitted having the right people is important to the organization.
“I think it’s about getting all levels of the organization to get the right people to achieve our goals,” he said. “Sometimes that means different board members through investments.”
That said, IAC might be loathe to give up control of the app, which is a bright spot in its portfolio of internet and mobile properties. While the company has yet to monetize the incredibly popular app, turning on that spigot could be a huge money maker for IAC.
A few days ago, Barclays analyst Christopher Merwin estimated that Tinder by itself could be worth upward of $1 billion to IAC. Based on the assumption that Tinder will turn on monetization next year and produce $180 million in revenue, Barclays raised its price target for IAC from $72 a share to $87.
Meanwhile, one potential holdup for the deal, which has been in the works for several months, could have been cleared up recently. Two days ago, Tinder settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with early employee Whitney Wolfe, who alleged sexual discrimination and sexual harassment from former CMO Justin Mateen. That suit was settled with no admission of wrongdoing, but Mateen recently resigned after being suspended from the company.