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Vanity Fair Journalist Challenges Tinder CEO Sean Rad to Meet Her Face to Face

"Bling Ring" author Nancy Jo Sales hits back.

Clodagh Kilcoyne / Getty

Earlier this week, ahead of his parent company’s IPO, Tinder CEO Sean Rad gave an interview that was the PR equivalent of a 20-car pileup on the day before Thanksgiving. In his chat with the London Evening Standard, Rad made vague threats — “muttering mysteriously that he has done his own ‘background research’ on the writer.” That would be Vanity Fair journalist Nancy Jo Sales, who had written an article that was mildly critical of Tinder a few months back.

Today, Sales published her rebuttal in Vanity Fair, telling Sean Rad and a Match Group higher-up to meet with her face to face in a public setting, to hash out issues around “female journalists and freedom of the press.”

Here’s the relevant portion, from the end of her piece:

I’d be happy for you to join me in a public forum to talk about the important issues surrounding this little kerfuffle between you and me — freedom of the press; female journalists and freedom of the press. I invite the head of Match Group to come along, and anyone else at your company who has something relevant to say. I think people are concerned about the pressure that companies seem to feel they can put on journalists as a way of managing their bottom lines. I know that we could sit down and, together, really hash this out.

In his earlier talk with the London Evening Standard, Rad misdefined “sodomy,” and humblebragged about sleeping with “only” 20 women. Rad’s own history with women working at Tinder isn’t great; a female executive who left the company sued Tinder last year, alleging gender discrimination and sexual abuse at the hands of then-CMO Justin Mateen, who later stepped down. Rad left the company later, as well, but returned to the helm a few months ago, after his replacement sanctioned an ill-advised tweetstorm directed at, well, Nancy Jo Sales.

Sales touches on this animosity in her piece, and also discusses other incidents in which tech industry figures have made threatening remarks about female journalists. She specifically brings up when Uber executive Emil Michael said something last year about Pando’s Sarah Lacy that was eerily similar to what Rad said about Sales.

In spite of the controversy beforehand, the Match Group’s Thursday IPO went well. Today, the stock closed above $15, more than 25 percent above its initial $12 share price.

You can read the full Vanity Fair article here. We’ve emailed Tinder for comment, and will update if we hear back.

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