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Today's Topics

3 charts before the weekend:

  • Online dating apps have boomed during the pandemic, we explore the business behind it.
  • Why people aren't quitting their jobs, and what it means.
  • How the age of the US Presidential candidates compares with history.
When Tinder came along in 2012 it changed the world of online dating forever. Lengthy profiles, and detailed insights into the many facets of your character, were out. Instead, some heavily filtered photos, and a good one-liner, was now theoretically all you needed to find love.

8 years later, dating apps just got a huge boost thanks to the lockdown. Match Group, which owns some of the biggest including Tinder and Hinge, reported that "the number of daily messages sent across all of our products in the month of April was 27% higher than during the last week of February".

So people are swiping more than ever, but did any of these apps ever turn into good businesses? We explored the financials of the biggest player, and found a business model we'd swipe right on in a heartbeat.
As an investment, Tinder has come good. Last year it brought in $1.15bn of revenue – more than all of Match Group's other brands combined, which includes match.com, Hinge, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish and many more.

Can't put a price on love

They say you can't put a price on love, but Match Group reckons $9.99 a month is not a bad place to start – which is the starting cost for Tinder premium. That gets you 'unlimited swipes', more 'super likes' and a 'rewind' function in case you accidentally slip and swipe the wrong way on your future soulmate.

We were surprised at how Match Group makes its money, with 98% of its revenue coming from direct paying customers, and only around 2% from advertising. On top of that, the group manages to squeeze out a 32% operating profit margin. Microsoft, the most successful software company in history, made a 34% operating margin in its most recent fiscal year. Pretty good company for such a simple idea.

As coronavirus lingers, the economics of these businesses is probably only going to get better. Given that we always try to jump on the latest hot trends, you can expect our Chartr dating service to launch soon, which will prompt users to explain why they think pie charts are bad in their own words.
Millions of people around the world have lost their jobs, but there's another cohort of people that you might not have thought about – those who wanted to quit their jobs, but can't justify it in the current climate of uncertainty. In the US there's probably a few million of those people already, as quit rates have fallen from ~3.5 million per month, to less than 2 million.

Golden handcuffs

The phrase 'golden handcuffs' is usually reserved for pay packages of highly compensated employees. Companies might offer highly lucrative bonuses or stock options that you only get if you stay for an extended period of time.

The current situation for lots of workers across the world is similar. Maybe your current job isn't your dream job, but for now it'll do right? Perhaps you feel lucky to have a solid job, and don't want to push your luck by trying to jump ship. For individual people that makes perfect sense, but low quit rates are actually not a great sign for the economy.

Quitting is actually... good?

Yep. Firstly it's just a good signal, when lots of people quit their jobs, it's a pretty solid endorsement in their confidence about the economy – they expect to be fine and go on to bigger and better things.

Secondly, the job market is a market like every other, and lots of moving about and shaking around is a good thing. It generally means people are pursuing jobs they really want, and firms can get the people they really want.
Whoever wins the US election in November will become the oldest serving President in US history. The very latest polls put Biden up on Trump by about 9 percentage points. If that lead for Biden were to hold all the way to November, he'd very likely win and get inaugurated at the age of 78.

It's hard to explain why both candidates are older this time around. One argument is that the older generations are more likely to turnout and vote, and therefore might vote for someone closer to their age. But lower youth turnout has been a facet of elections for most of history, and hasn't stopped younger candidates doing well in the past – including Obama most recently – who was elected at age 47. 

The most obvious explanation is healthcare. Life expectancies have increased dramatically, and for 2 people with access to the best healthcare in the world it does now seem entirely possible to take on the job of President in your late 70s or even your early 80s.

It's also useful to get some historical perspective. Our World in Data estimates that life expectancy around the world during the late 1700s was 35-40 years-old. So George Washington becoming the first President at the age of 57 in 1789 is actually way more extreme than either of the candidates ages we have in 2020.
Quick note before the data snacks – the final chart in Wednesday's newsletter was slightly mislabelled. The proportion of people listening to radio was actually specifically 'news on the radio' – not radio of any kind. Please forgive us.

Data Snacks


1) German payments firm Wirecard has seen its share price plummet almost 80% in two days after a long history of allegations of fraud (FT) came to a head when the company said it was missing €1.9bn of cash.

2) Spotify's next podcast star? Kim Kardashian. The music streaming giant has signed Kim K for an exclusive podcast, hoping that she'll bring some of her 175 million Instagram followers with her.

3) Fortune 100 companies have now pledged to donate more than $2bn to help battle racism and inequality.

4) Today is the 150th anniversary of the end of slavery across the US. To commemorate the day, known as Juneteenth, CNN has put together a great list of the important numbers and facts.

5) Some young professionals in India are keeping sane during lockdown by virtually adopting pets, paying $40 a month to spend an hour or so a day with their pet over Skype.

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