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Tinder hits back against co-founder Sean Rad’s lawsuit: ‘He bet against Tinder’

Rad sued Tinder parent company IAC. Now IAC wants the lawsuit dismissed.

Tinder co-founder Sean Rad
Tinder co-founder Sean Rad
Asa Mathat

As far as corporate fights go, Tinder’s public bout with co-founder Sean Rad is shaping into one of the gnarliest.

Rad — who was fired as Tinder’s CEO in 2015, then returned to the job six months later, then left again shortly thereafter — sued his former employer in August, claiming Tinder’s parent company IAC purposefully undervalued his dating app in 2017 to keep the co-founders from cashing in on big paydays.

“Through deception, bullying, and outright lies, IAC/Match stole billions of dollars from the Tinder employees,” the lawsuit’s plaintiffs wrote at the time. “IAC/Match cooked the books to manufacture a fake lowball valuation of Tinder.”

Rad and Tinder’s other co-founders are seeking more than $2 billion in damages.

Now IAC is fighting back. The company, which owns Tinder as part of its majority stake in publicly traded Match Group, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Tuesday. The motion claims Rad “fully participated in the valuation process” of Tinder, and then decided to cash out before Tinder’s business matured. In the petition, IAC says Rad earned at least $400 million by selling his stock. Match Group released a statement saying that Rad’s lawsuit included “many fabrications, half-truths and omissions.” (Note: The company updated its statement from “many lies, half-truths and omissions.”)

“When the banks determined Tinder’s value Rad exercised his options and cashed out as soon as was permissible,” a Match Group spokesperson said in a statement. “In doing so, Sean Rad bet against Tinder, and then watched from the sidelines as Match’s stock increased 150 percent. He cannot unwind that gamble now simply because he regrets it.”

IAC estimates Tinder will bring in $800 million in revenue this year. Since June of 2017, Match Group stock has nearly tripled.

The new motion mostly amounts to more of the same he-said, they-said that Rad and IAC have been serving up for years. But considering how important Tinder is to Match Group’s business, it’s a spat worth following. Match did $1.3 billion in revenue in 2017, so Tinder’s projected $800 million is a hefty portion of Match’s business.

Update: Orin Snyder, a lawyer for Rad and other Tinder co-founders who filed suit against IAC, sent Recode the following statement:

”IAC and Match know they cheated Tinder employees out of billions of dollars. Their sham valuation is a case study of corporate dishonesty and corruption. When the jury sees the evidence, we are confident the talented team who built Tinder will prevail.”

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