Match Group is expected to price its initial public offering late Wednesday. The company, recently spun off by Barry Diller’s InterActive Corp., is parent to a number of different online dating properties, including OkCupid and the even buzzier Tinder.
In an IPO market that’s been showing cracks recently, there is no guarantee that Match (MTCH) stock will be a hit. So the timing of a very unflattering profile of Tinder CEO Sean Rad is not auspicious.
The 29-year-old founder, who developed the app at OkCupid’s R&D lab in 2012, spoke to the Evening Standard, a London newspaper, which posted the interview on Wednesday morning. In the interview, Rad makes a number of comments that are fairly cringeworthy. According to the profile, Rad, an avid user of his own product, made the following comments on the record:
- He suggested that a model who is “really, really famous” has been “begging” him for sex. “I don’t care if someone is a model,” he told the paper. “It sounds clichéd and almost totally unbelievable for a guy to say this, but it’s true. I need an intellectual challenge.”
- Rad then confused intellectual attraction with anal sex. “Apparently there’s a term for someone who gets turned on by intellectual stuff. You know, just talking. What’s the word … I want to say ‘sodomy?’”
- He appeared to imply that he dug up dirt on the Vanity Fair journalist who wrote a story on Tinder earlier this year that the company did not like; Rad is still upset over the story. The reporter describes him “muttering mysteriously” (her words) about “background research” (his) that he conducted on Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales. “There’s some stuff about her as an individual that will make you think differently,” Rad said.
Even Tinder’s communications VP, Rosette Pambakian, was uncomfortable with Rad’s comments at the time, if the story is to be believed. At one point, in front of the reporter, she said, “We’re going to be fired.” It’s not clear if she was speaking in jest or not.
Tinder’s user base has grown exponentially, and its in-app experience has been hugely influential: Scores of other apps, not all of them for dating, now use a swipe functionality. But the company has not been without major controversy: Last year, a senior employee, Whitney Wolfe, accused co-founder Justin Mateen of sexual harassment, and Valleywag acquired text messages from Mateen to Wolfe.
In light of the scandal, Mateen resigned in September 2014, and Tinder settled with Wolfe, who went on to create her own competing dating app, Bumble. A few months after Mateen left, in November 2014, Rad was out as the company’s CEO, but took the job back this past August.
In a phone call with Fortune about the Evening Standard story, a Tinder spokesperson declined to give any comment on the record.
Match Group has essentially been the Anheuser-Busch InBev of the online dating industry, buying up smaller dating services like HowAboutWe and PlentyOfFish. Sam Yagan, who co-founded OkCupid, sold it to IAC, and became CEO of Match, has told Fortune that for any small online dating company that gets traction, “You’re going to launch, you’re going to get some success, [and] I’m going to buy you for cheap because you don’t have another bidder.”
Match has reportedly eyed an initial price of $12 to $14 per share. The Evening Standard profile of Rad could impact trading, at least on the stock’s first day. But if it doesn’t, it will serve as a reminder that any press may be good press—perhaps especially so for a controversial dating app.