Via Elite Daily
The famous dating app Tinder is coming under fire for allegations of sexual assault.
Whitney Wolfe, Tinder’s former marketing vice president, says she was the victim of a pattern of abusive behavior, including inappropriate private messages and blatant sexist name-calling like “slut” and “whore.”
Court documents of the lawsuit indicate that Wolfe was a “driving force of Tinder.” Wolfe, along with cofounders Sean Rad, Christopher Gulczynski, Jonathan Badeen and Joe Munoz, were part of a company working at Hatch Lab, an IAC-funded incubator.
They originally created an app called Matchbox, which would “facilitate connections with people in the users’ geographic.” Realizing the closeness in the name to the Match.com, they changed the name to Tinder.
From the beginning, Wolfe was “routinely held out as the face of the company.” She took the user count from a few hundred to over 1,500 by aggressively marketing to universities around the US.
She was officially designated “codesigner,” and Munoz reportedly commended her for her efforts in growing Tinder with the following message:
"I credit you 100% with the growth of Tinder and I think that sending you around the US to visit sororities was absolutely the best investment we could possibly have made on the marketing side."
In November 2012, two months after Justin Mateen joined Tinder as Chief Marketing Officer, a position that made him Wolfe’s direct supervisor, Mateen began pursuing a romantic relationship with Wolfe. The two began dating in February 2013.
Wolfe continued to pioneer Tinder for females.
According to court documents, she “spearheaded the app’s national college launch. She had honed in on female influencers on social media channels like Instagram, which had been instrumental in making Tinder “cool” and socially acceptable for many women who had once been hesitant to use dating apps.”
Wolfe did lots of press interviews and features on behalf of Tinder and was continually held as cofounder.
However, despite Tinder’s constant praise in publications like The Wire, The New Yorker, Elle Magazine, Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar for being so successful because the company has a woman as one of the cofounders, there were “gender-based inconsistencies” in how Tinder presented itself.
When press about Tinder showed up in more business-type publications, Wolfe’s name would be nowhere to be seen. Court documents say that the other male founders told her it’s because “you’re a girl.”
Including Wolfe’s name in business press, the founders said, “makes the company look like it was an accident.” Mateen said a female founder devalued the team.
Tinder was still succeeding, though. Wolfe drafted international marketing plans, hiring, training, managing and motivating an international team that launched Tinder in overseas markets. Tinder soon became explosive in Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the UK.
Despite Tinder’s success, Mateen and Wolfe’s relationship was rocky. He “accused her of destroying his power at the company because she had a title similar to his — Ms. Wolfe’s title was ‘VP and Co-Founder,’ while Mr. Mateen’s title was ‘CMO and Co-Founder.’
Mateen became verbally abusive and controlling. The two split up several times in the months following September 2013, and Mateen directed all of his anger about the failure of the relationship towards Wolfe.
Around this time, November 2013, Mateen and Rad informed Wolfe that she was no longer going to be designated as “cofounder.” Their reason was that Wolfe was a 24-year old “girl” with little experience, “mak[ing] the company look like a joke” and “devalu[ing] the company.”
Mateen attempted to justify the situation by saying that Facebook and Snapchat don’t have female founders because it, once again, would make the companies seem like “accidents.”
Mateen even went so far as to say that he didn’t want boys dating Wolfe because of her cofounder status — being a female cofounder of Tinder, according to Mateen, was “slutty” since it’s a program that people use to “hook up.”
Wolfe was told by Mateen and Rad that she either had to accept their decision or be fired.
The two had been broken up during this time, but Wolfe gave her relationship with Mateen another chance in November 2013. She officially ended the relationship on or around December 12, 2013 and made it clear that she was done.
Afterwards, Mateen told Wolfe that she better be a “good girl” and keep her distance from other men, during which time he was going to evaluate her and determine if she was “worthy” of being with him or if she was a “slut” that he’d considered her to be before the two met.
The months followed with more abuse. Mateen called her “disgusting” and “a desperate loser,” and accused her of “jump[ing] from relationship to relationship.” To Rosette Pambakian, head of PR, Mateen called Wolfe a “fake person” and “a bad girl.”
He claimed he ended the relationship because she was “an alcoholic who lost control” and that he needed “to watch her and see if she was a slut when they broke up.” Soon, Wolfe found herself excluded from office events and meetings and felt ostracized.
Mateen did not limit his abuse to in-person work offenses. He also sent her a “barrage of aggressive, angry texts in which Mr. Mateen berated her for, among other things, possibly talking to another man… for speaking to Muslim men while she was on family vacation in Aspen…[and] for being friendly with another girl who he referred to as a ‘liberal lying desperate slut.’”
Mateen said that if she ever “hurt his pride” — date another man — he would fire her. He simply could not get over her and would continue to harass her via text message about it, obsessively grilling her about her romantic life and “affecting her work environment.”
On multiple occasions, Wolfe asked for CEO Rad’s help in the situation. He’d often dismiss her complaints as being “dramatic” or “annoying”and ignore her.
During a meeting, Rad even told her that it was her job to “keep Justin calm.” If she couldn’t do that, if she and Mateen couldn’t get along, she would be fired.
Wolfe told friend Alexa Dell, the 20-year-old who became Mateen’s girlfriend by spring of 2013, that “[t]he sh*t [Mateen] says when he talks makes me wanna kill myself he’s so low and nasty I might quit.”
At a company party in Malibu in April 2014, Mateen continued calling Wolfe names: “whore,” “gold digger,” “a disease” and “disgusting.”
This was all in front of Rad, who Wolfe eventually sought for advice about what to do regarding the discomfort she felt at work. Rad said that “things were going to get ugly… Your employment continuing is not likely an option at this point.”
The following are screenshots of a series of text messages that went on between Mateen and Wolfe that chronicle the abuse: