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Executive Perspectives

Executive Perspectives: Hesam Hosseini

The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way singles connect, says the CEO of Match and Match Affinity.
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Hesam Hosseini oversees the brand and its affinity affiliate, all part of the $1.7 billion Match Group. He has held a variety of roles since joining the Dallas-based company 12 years ago, including CEO of the PlentyOfFish brand and general manager of Match International. Prior to getting into online dating, Hosseini was a consultant with McKinsey & Co.

How are you coping amid the COVID-19 crisis?

COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on every aspect of our daily lives, especially in the way singles are connecting. We, as humans, are hardwired for personal connections, so after 25 years in the dating industry, our mission of sparking connections has never been more important. We want to do everything we can to help singles feel less isolated and more connected.

Did your business continuity plan work, or were there surprises?

As a tech company, we embrace change. In a nutshell, our business continuity plan is to stay nimble and adapt. With COVID-19, dating culture changed overnight, and singles suddenly had hundreds of questions about how to navigate dating. To help, we decided to open up access to our team of experts via a free hotline to help singles navigate virtual dating.

We also wanted to make sure our members had a way to connect virtually within our app, even if meeting in person was off the table. So, we reprioritized our roadmap and went to work building new ways for our members to connect while staying at home.

Internally, we focused on the transition from office to work from home. We are a company that thrives on being in an open office space, and sheltering in place was a big adjustment. To make the transition easier, we offered stipends to help employees set up their home office, created flexible work schedules for parents and caregivers, and, like most, embraced technology to stay connected with our teams.

What are the short-term ramifications for your specific industry?

The need for meaningful connections hasn’t changed, but the tools singles are using to find and meet others changed practically overnight. Before COVID-19, only six percent of our members said they would use video to get to know a match. That number has jumped to nearly 70 percent during the pandemic.

We got to work, and within four weeks, we launched video calling within our app. We continue to look for ways to offer an innovative product to our members.

Have you found silver linings in these difficult times?

It’s been humanizing to share in our colleagues’ private lives by meeting each other’s kids, pets, roommates, and spouses, all from behind a video screen; my kids have burst into my office countless times.

There has been so much empathy and camaraderie shared during this time, and that’s something we should remember after this pandemic. We’ve always had a strong company culture, but I think our team has become closer than ever.

How are you maintaining your company culture?

Being transparent about any changes in priorities and operations has been essential. We hold all of our meetings over video and we use Slack constantly. We get together via virtual happy hours, puppy parties, story time with kids, mindfulness activities, and we even celebrated our 25th anniversary over Zoom this week.

We may be physically isolated from each other, but that’s not stopping us from staying connected.

What have you learned that may change your policies or strategies for the future?

This has been a good reminder that “normal” is always up for disruption. What defines our strategies or policies today can quickly change.

However, we continued to rely on our values and mission to guide us during this time, whether that is being agile and transparent with our employees or doing everything possible to help our members make meaningful connections.

What will things look like for your company and industry in another six months?

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what the next half-year to a year will look like for Match. Internally, we are privileged to have been able to maintain business momentum while we all work from home. So, we will likely keep some work-from-home flavor for a little while as we slowly dial back to normal, whatever that may look like.

In our industry, 2020 will forever be the year that changed the way singles connect. Singles will discover new tools during this time and will probably keep using them post-pandemic, such as meeting your matches over video before a date. And that will lead to better face-to-face dates.

Do you have advice for other business leaders?

My advice during this global pandemic would be transparency amidst uncertainty, over-communication, and staying nimble.

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