Entertainment

Former Tinder CEO Greg Blatt had valued the dating app at $12B in 2016, emails reveal


Greg Blatt, the former CEO of Tinder, valued the popular dating app at nearly $12billion in 2016, a year before he allegedly schemed to devalue the company to just $3billion to cheat them out of billions of dollars in stock options, according to internal emails obtained by DailyMail.com.

A group of former employees, including founder Sean Rad, will be using those emails from 2016 in an upcoming trial to try to prove Blatt intentionally lowballed the value in 2017, denying banks information they needed to make an accurate assessment. 

The $2billion Tinder valuation case, filed in 2018 against the company and its corporate parents, Match Group and IAC, is finally set to go to trial next month in New York Supreme Court. 

Internal emails show former Tinder CEO Greg Blatt (pictured in red tie with founder Sean Rad, second from right) had initially projected the company’s value at nearly $12billion

The emails, obtained by DailyMail.com, show Blatt emailed colleagues on January 6, 2016 requesting a four-page PowerPoint 'that helps us sell prospective execs on the future valuation of Tinder'

The emails, obtained by DailyMail.com, show Blatt emailed colleagues on January 6, 2016 requesting a four-page PowerPoint ‘that helps us sell prospective execs on the future valuation of Tinder’

But the defense claims the so-called 'recruiting deck' in January 2016 was based on hypothetical numbers and is not at all the same as a third-party valuation

But the defense claims the so-called ‘recruiting deck’ in January 2016 was based on hypothetical numbers and is not at all the same as a third-party valuation

The emails, now part of the court record, show Blatt knew Tinder was worth far more than $3billion when he spearheaded a 2017 appraisal that set the value of employee stock options, according to Orin Snyder, the plaintiffs’ lawyer. 

‘They breached their duties in 2017 by lying to the banks and painting a doom-and-gloom picture of a company whose meteoric rise was about to plummet to the earth,’ Snyder told the judge October 5 during a pre-trial hearing.

Blatt may have tipped his hand in 2016, when he projected the company’s value at between $9 and $11.75 billion. He used that data to lure talent away from other tech companies.

The $2billion Tinder valuation case, is finally set to go to trial next month in New York Supreme Court

The $2billion Tinder valuation case, is finally set to go to trial next month in New York Supreme Court

‘I want to pull together a four page power point that helps us sell prospective execs on the future valuation of Tinder,’ Blatt wrote to a colleague on January 6, 2016.

‘How quickly can we pull that together,’ he asked. ‘We’re trying to land a head of engineering right now who just received a $40m offer from Uber and a $30 m offer from Facebook.’

Blatt forwarded a chart with those figures to job candidates including Maria Zhang, who left Yahoo to become Tinder’s chief technology officer in April 2016, the emails show.

‘That’s the whole point of our case,’ Snyder told the judge during the hearing, and claimed ‘they were telling the truth when they were recruiting engineers.’

As for the 2017 valuation, the lawyer argued, ‘they didn’t even tell the banks that just months earlier they had done their own internal review and came up exactly where the future brought Tinder.’ 

A year later, Blatt valued the company at just $3billion in an alleged scheme to cheat employees out of billions of dollars in stock options, according to court documents

A year later, Blatt valued the company at just $3billion in an alleged scheme to cheat employees out of billions of dollars in stock options, according to court documents 

The slides show Blatt projected the company's value at between $9 and $11.75 billion and used that data to lure talent away from other tech companies

The slides show Blatt projected the company’s value at between $9 and $11.75 billion and used that data to lure talent away from other tech companies

Blatt forwarded a chart with those figures to job candidates including Maria Zhang, who left Yahoo to become Tinder's chief technology officer in April 2016, the emails show

Blatt forwarded a chart with those figures to job candidates including Maria Zhang, who left Yahoo to become Tinder’s chief technology officer in April 2016, the emails show

The diagrams showed Tinder's projected growth of monthly active users would mimic that of OkCupid

The diagrams showed Tinder’s projected growth of monthly active users would mimic that of OkCupid

Blatt forwarded a chart with those figures to job candidates including Maria Zhang, who left Yahoo to become Tinder's chief technology officer in April 2016, the emails show

Blatt forwarded a chart with those figures to job candidates including Maria Zhang, who left Yahoo to become Tinder’s chief technology officer in April 2016, the emails show

In August of this year, a Morgan Stanley analyst report valued Tinder at $42billion, though the judge has limited what post valuation figures can be shared with the jury.

The defense says the so-called ‘recruiting deck’ in January 2016 was based on hypothetical numbers and is not at all the same as a third-party valuation. 

While the chart did say that Tinder could grow if certain conditions were met, those conditions had not been met by 2017, they argue.

Contacted by DailyMail.com, a spokesperson for Match and IAC would not comment specifically on the emails, but said ‘this baseless lawsuit has no more merit today than it did years ago when it was filed.

‘We are very pleased that the Court has already dismissed many of the bogus allegations made by Sean Rad and the witnesses who got paid under the litigation funding agreement,’ the spokesperson Justine Sacco added. 

‘Sean Rad bet against Tinder, and then watched from the sidelines as Match’s stock increased. He cannot unwind that gamble now simply because he regrets it. We look forward to finally having our day in court.’

Rad along with other founders and former employees filed the lawsuit in 2018, and the trial begins November 8.

The upcoming trial will not include more salacious claims that Barry Diller -  whose company IAC had taken over Tinder - had covered up a sexual assault allegation against Blatt at a holiday party in December 2016

The upcoming trial will not include more salacious claims that Barry Diller –  whose company IAC had taken over Tinder – had covered up a sexual assault allegation against Blatt at a holiday party in December 2016

Billionaire Barry Diller, the head of IAC, is among those expected to testify in the civil trial that he and his company had tried to get thrown out of court.

But the most salacious allegation has been excluded from the case. 

In court papers, the plaintiffs accused Diller and other higher-ups of covering up a sexual assault allegation against Blatt at a holiday party in December 2016.

Co-founder Sean Rad filed a lawsuit along with other founders and former employees against Tinder's corporate parents in 2018

Co-founder Sean Rad filed a lawsuit along with other founders and former employees against Tinder’s corporate parents in 2018

When Rad reported the allegation about Blatt to a company lawyer, Blatt accused him of ‘trying to burn down the house,’ believing the incident would damage an imminent public offering of the dating app, the plaintiffs argued. 

Diller, whose company IAC had taken over Tinder, ‘threatened to go after (Rad) for everything he has, his parents have, and anyone he knows has,’ if he pursued the matter, according to court papers.

The judge in July ruled the information was prejudicial and has no place in a valuation dispute.

At the end of 2016, Tinder was one of the fastest growing tech companies in the world, and Tinder employees had a right to sell stock options at a value set by Tinder’s 2017 valuation.

Blatt was installed as interim CEO on December 8, 2016, replacing Rad who became chairman.

The valuation was completed in June 2017. Two weeks later, Blatt resigned.

The documents include Blatt’s draft resignation letter, in which he acknowledged the sexual assault allegation, apparently believing that Match was about to publicize the news.

The alleged victim, Rosette Pambakian, is no longer a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

She and three other former Tinder employees, who signed arbitration agreements, pursued identical claims against IAC and Match. The valuation claims that are going to trial are pending in arbitration.

Rosette has a separate legal action against Blatt, IAC and Match for wrongful termination, sexual harassment and other related claims. That case has been sent to arbitration.

Blatt, meanwhile, is pursuing his own lawsuit against Rad and Pambakian, a defamation case accusing Rad of setting out to destroy him for ‘interfering with the co-founder’s dreams of a lucrative, outsized payout.’ 

The filing states that Rad did this in part by recruiting Pambakian, who soon after publicly accused Blatt of sexual assault. That case is also pending.



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