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Match, Bumble Fight the Ick

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Investors have fallen out of love with tech subscription businesses lately, facing the reality that there is no such thing as infinite growth. From Netflix to Peloton, even the best platforms seem to eventually face commoditization. Dating has been no exception: Match and Bumble shares were down an average of nearly 59% over the last year as of Wednesday’s close. Over that period, the tech-heavy S&P 500 has lost under 5%.

Dating giant

Match Group

MTCH -0.71%

addressed its life-cycle debate head-on in its earnings call last week, pegging its total addressable market excluding China at over 700 million people. Match’s shareholder letter shows its total monthly active users last year nearing 100 million, suggesting a lot of untapped opportunity still to come. Then again, the company also said that in the U.S. and Western Europe, nearly half of its addressable market had already tried a dating app at one time or another.

Like other U.S.-based subscription platforms, online dating companies are looking to international expansion to tap into markets where their apps are historically underpenetrated, but where they think opportunity is especially ripe.

Bumble

BMBL -8.32%

has made a big push in India, for example, to appeal to women in particular; while Match has had a lot of success with its Pairs app in Japan.

But they appear to also be looking to recapture attention in more entrenched markets, where they may have lost some of their luster. Despite the cornucopia of dating apps, catering to everyone from cat lovers to bearded people, large communities are still relatively underserved. Earlier this year, for example, Match launched Stir, an app meant for single parents. This seems especially fitting in the U.S., which has more children living with single parents than any other country, according to Pew Research. And in what Match said was a dating-app first, its Hinge app last quarter released conversation starters specifically for the LGBTQ+ community.

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