Match names Zynga President Bernard Kim as CEO, replacing Shar Dubey

·4 min read

Dating app giant Match is getting a new CEO. Just over two years after assuming the top exec position, Match CEO and 16-year employee Shar Dubey is stepping down. The company announced today, alongside its first-quarter earnings, Shar Dubey will resign as an officer of Match Group but will remain on the company's board and continue to serve as an adviser. Bernard Kim, the current president of Zynga, will become CEO effective May 31 and will join Match's board of directors.

Kim has been president of Zynga since 2016 and has overseen a number of key functions, including global marketing, user acquisition, revenue, consumer insights, data science, product management, mergers and acquisitions, and communications, Match said, in announcing the news. Kim was also instrumental in the company's expansion into new markets including blockchain and hypercasual gaming, as well as to new platforms like Nintendo Switch, Snapchat and smart home devices. He also helped quadruple Zynga's market cap ahead of its $12.7 billion acquisition by Take-Two in January 2022. Before Zynga, Kim spent nearly 10 years at EA, as SVP of Mobile Publishing, and previously worked at The Walt Disney Company.

The move to bring in a mobile gaming exec to lead a dating app company is an interesting choice, particularly as Match is looking to grow its business beyond traditional, swipe-based matchmaking and into the so-called "metaverse." Match has spoken previously about its plans for a dating metaverse, complete with a virtual goods-based economy, real-time audio and the ability for online daters to meet up in a virtual space to have conversations. In addition, Match's flagship dating app Tinder began experimenting last fall with interactive, social experiences in a new Tinder Explore section, meant to help push the boundaries of where dating and in-app socializing overlap. And Match's bigger-ever acquisition of HyperConnect, now powering various products across Match, Meetic, Pairs and POF, is pushing Match further into online social. Given Kim's background with Zynga -- a company that originally built its empire as a social gaming platform on top of Facebook's platform -- the new exec may be able to offer insights as to how to guide Match as it expands into new, interactive and social spaces.

"I'm honored to join Match Group's talented team at such a pivotal time, as the company continues to see powerful momentum, strong user engagement and passionate employees who are driven to bring joy to millions of users from all walks of life," said Bernard Kim, in a statement. "I have tremendous admiration for Shar Dubey's leadership and for Match Group's powerful mission to create meaningful connections for every single person worldwide today and in the future."

"I feel privileged that I am able to step down from a day-to-day operating role and have the time and headspace to focus on what is hopefully the 'give back' chapter of my life," stated Shar Dubey. "As a director and an adviser, I will have the flexibility to stay close to aspects of the business I love — product and strategy. I leave the company in great hands. With Bernard's energy, fresh thinking and extensive mobile technology and consumer business experience, combined with the over 70 years of institutional knowledge and category experience of our brand CEOs and leaders at Match Group, I am ever so excited about this next phase of the company and the category."

The company reported Q1 earnings of $799 million, up 20% year over year, above Wall St. estimates of $794 million and operating income up 10% year over year of $208 million, representing a 26% operating margin. Tinder's direct revenue grew 18% over the prior year driven by 17% growth in paying subscribers to reach 10.7 million. Across all dating app brands, Match's monthly active users approached 100 million by the end of the quarter. The company, however, warned that Google's change to force payments through its own system would lead to an estimated $6 million of negative impact beginning June 1. Match's stock dropped 6% after earnings were reported.

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