Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Everything dating app


Everything is a dating app now

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Summer is here, and love is in the air—though increasingly not, as Antonia Mufarech writes, on the apps. As the dating sites struggle, people are going back to the classics (IRL interactions) or starting new traditions (love on LinkedIn?). Plus: How Birkenstock became a luxury brand. If this email was forwarded to you, click here to sign up.

More and more, it seems, people in the dating market are looking at the apps on their phones and swiping left on the whole enterprise. Bumble Inc. and Match Group Inc., which dominate the online dating realm, have together lost more than $53 billion in market value since Bumble’s initial public offering in 2021. Bumble’s sales growth is expected to slow to 9% this year, down from a peak of 31% in 2021. The number of people paying to use Match’s apps, such as Hinge and Tinder, declined 6% to 14.9 million from the same quarter a year earlier.

The reasons for this are manifold: Paying for matches and dealing with bots are among some of the top turnoffs mentioned online. “It is difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish truth from fiction” on dating platforms, says Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at University of Rochester. “People are tired of being disappointed or worse.”

Although some users are unwilling to spend money on subscriptions and others are wary of crimes and AI scams, online dating isn’t sunsetting anytime soon. It’s just evolving, in unconventional ways. According to a survey of 505 people actively dating in the US, conducted by DatingNews.com, 52% of all respondents ages 20 to 40 said they had met people through networking platforms such as LinkedIn.

Yes, LinkedIn. Why?

LinkedIn is not just for celebrating work anniversaries anymore. Photographer: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek

“The filters!” says Candice Gallagher, who goes by the username @candi.licious, in a viral TikTok video explaining why she uses LinkedIn as a dating app. “No. 1, I can filter for an education—MBA, baby. No. 2, I can filter by industry. I’m looking at doctor, lawyer, finance bro.” By her logic, an executive profile might be a more reliable representation of the person, at least careerwise. Who’d post something they wouldn’t want a potential employer to see?

LinkedIn says that, as a professional network, it encourages its members to engage in meaningful, authentic conversations, including those that are lighthearted and respectful, as long as no community policies are violated. “Romantic advances and harassment of any form is a violation of our rules, and our policies include detailed examples that show what kind of content does not belong on LinkedIn,” a company spokesperson said. “Members can report any instances of harassment on LinkedIn and signal to us that such behavior is unwanted, allowing us to take action.”

The DatingNews.com survey also noted that 21% of respondents used non-dating apps for meeting people, such as Duolingo, the language-learning program.

Consider Amanda Lopez, originally from the Philippines, who reached out to US-based Rob Ciesielski via Facebook in 2021 after he congratulated her on her Duolingo streak. After calls, virtual family introductions and care packages sent halfway around the globe, the couple tied the knot in the Philippines in January 2023.

“While Duolingo’s mission is to make language learning fun and accessible, we’re thrilled when learners like Rob and Amanda find love along the way,” says Monica Earle, senior PR manager at Duolingo. “Even though we are not a dating app, seeing our platform bringing people together is heartwarming.”

Other apps have unexpectedly served as Cupid as well, such as Strava, which tracks workouts. But some courageous daters are expanding beyond chat rooms and taking matters into their own hands to find someone who checks all the boxes. (Memo to daters: If your criteria are too strict, you could be in for some teasing—or land a record deal.)

Others on the lookout for “The One” have completely removed apps from the equation and are turning to the old-school ways, such as speed dating, mixers and setups. Or meeting at a bar. An Australian clothing brand had a viral moment this year when its marketers handed out croissants during a commute to attract would-be partners.

Paul Eastwick, who researches how people initiate romantic relationships, says he’s heard people are embracing classic live, face-to-face avenues more and more.

“Assuming this is true, I think it reflects the realization that face-to-face impressions are hard to duplicate through online approaches,” he says, “and people naturally seem to enjoy most forms of in-person socializing more than they enjoy passively scrolling their phones these days.”

In Brief



Birkenstock Makes It in Fashion

Photographer: Philotheus Nisch for Bloomberg Businessweek

For centuries, Burg Ockenfels was home to medieval knights angling to control traffic along the Rhine River. Today the stone castle flaunts two round towers, a row of Renaissance-style statues and a courtyard that looks out over hills and farms. To visit, you take a train from Bonn to the sleepy village of Linz, then climb a long, steep hill until you reach the compound’s elaborate gate. From there, the place looks something like Xanadu, the mountaintop palace in Citizen Kane.

Since the 1990s, the property has belonged to Christian Birkenstock, the seventh-generation scion of the German footwear dynasty. Out front, the mailbox has a camera and buzzers for 19 corporate entities with “Birkenstock” in their name, along with almost as many others belonging to Christian personally, as well as the family office of his brother Alex. In early October, when Birkenstock capped off a decade of explosive growth with an initial public offering, Christian and Alex became billionaires.

The man most responsible for their windfall, however, typically works out of an office about 300 miles southeast, in Munich. Standing about 6-foot-6, with a thick, bushy beard, a baritone voice and a dry sense of humor that can be intimidating, Oliver Reichert isn’t exactly what you’d expect from an orthopedic shoe company executive. Among those who’ve worked for or sat across the negotiating table from Birkenstock’s chief executive officer, a word sometimes used to describe him is “bully.”

When Christian Birkenstock hired Reichert in 2009, the family business was in disarray, with stagnating sales and no coherent plan for the future. After their domineering father, Karl, stepped back years earlier, Christian and Alex—then in their late 30s and early 40s, respectively—began fighting with their older brother, Stephan, for creative control. It had been more than a decade since the public had fawned over Birkenstocks, and suddenly upstarts such as Crocs were jolting a category long relegated to stoners, geriatrics and German tourists.

At the time of Reichert’s arrival, the one thing everyone at the company agreed on was that Birkenstock’s patented “footbed”—the bulky sole of the distinctive sandals—was the source of the magic. Beyond that, nobody agreed on what exactly to do. Plenty of company veterans, whom Reichert eventually referred to as “footbed fascists,” looked to change absolutely nothing. “It was almost like the Bible had been written, and we didn’t need a New Testament,” Reichert, who became the first outsider to run the business in its 250-year history, once told a German newspaper. “Then I came in like a mix of Martin Luther, Muhammad Ali and Napoleon.”

Reichert’s unsubtle confidence worked. Before long, Birkenstock sandals were landing everywhere from Parisian runways and high-end department stores to the feet of entire families from Brooklyn to Boise. Gone were the days when you could pull off Germany’s autobahn and snap up a pair of Arizona sandals for under $50 at a rest stop. Under Reichert’s watch, Birkenstock became an accessible luxury, the company’s sales more than tripling, to $830 million by 2020.

Tim Loh writes about how the 250-year-old German orthopedic shoe company transformed itself into a luxury behemoth in: The Ballad of Birkenstock

Indian election +

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JUNE 4TH 2024


The Economist today

The best of our journalism, handpicked each day

India’s 2024 poll

A shock election result in India humbles Narendra Modi

Instead of strongman rule an uncertain era of coalition government beckons


→ Indian election results 2024

→ Sign up to Essential India, our free weekly newsletter

 Asia | India’s 2024 poll 

A shock election result in India humbles Narendra Modi

Instead of strongman rule an uncertain era of coalition government beckons

 India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in Varanasi in May 2024
photograph: getty images

Ahead of the general election that concluded on June 1st Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, was expected to romp home. His charisma, combined with an emphasis on infrastructure development, welfare payments to the poorest and a polarising Hindu nationalism, looked unbeatable. Mr Modi exuded a confidence that matched those predictions. He claimed that his Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) and its allies would win upwards of 400 seats in the 543-seat parliament.

Early results from the vote count on June 4th appeared to put that target out of reach. After more than 50% of the votes had been counted, Mr Modi’s alliance still looked headed for victory, with the bjp and its allies ahead in 290 seats, compared with the opposition’s 235. Yet the bjp itself appeared to be on course to lose more than 60 seats compared with the last election in 2019, with results mid-afternoon putting its tally at 238, down from 303 in 2019. Crucially, that means that it will rely on its alliance partners to control parliament (272 seats are needed for a majority). Final results are expected late on Tuesday or early on Wednesday. The spectacle of the Modi machine faltering has shocked the public, the political world and financial markets: the country’s benchmark share index fell by 6%. 


Indian election results 2024

Early results suggest Modi’s BJP will win, but not by a landslide

Last updated on June 4th 2024 at 4.07pm

Seats in Lok Sabha 2024, won or leading






BJP + allies

140 won 153 leading

272 for majorityCongress + allies

97 won 136 leading

After a mammoth election, vote counting began in India’s 543 constituencies on the morning of Tuesday June 4th local time. To form a government, a party or alliance needs to win 272 seats. Last time, in 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, and its allies swept to victory with 353 of 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the national parliament. This time around, they are aiming even higher: 400 seats. Exit polls suggested they would come close. But the early count is pointing to a much less resounding triumph, and a humbling for Mr Modi. On this page, you can track the results as they come in. The chart above shows the tentative seat count by party. (It includes seats in which a party is currently leading.) The map at the bottom of this page will be updated with the result in each seat once it is declared.
If you are interested in contests elsewhere, see our Trump/Biden poll tracker, our British election tracker and more at our election tracker hub.
Indian elections take place over seven phases. They are staggered, such that a week or so passes between each round, and scattered all over the country, in a splotchy-looking map that the Election Commission of India has calibrated carefully. And no one will know who won any given seat until the results are announced on June 4th. Why draw out the voting like this? Getting from one part of the country to another takes time; some of India’s more than 1m polling stations are still extremely remote. A roving company of administrators, backed up by an enormous number of police and paramilitary forces, try to ensure a free and fair election. In wilder times the Election Commission was chiefly concerned with protecting ballot boxes from being stuffed or stolen, or candidates kidnapped. Today it is more focused on organising a fair and well-publicised vote.

Indian election 2024, voting phases

Apr 14th

May 7th




Jun 1st

May 20th

Ahead of the election, the outcome was in little doubt: Mr Modi’s BJP was strongly favoured to return to power. Over the past 40 years, when the party first contested an election, it has come to dominate national politics. Just as striking as the BJP’s rise is Congress’s fall. The only previous time a party has broken the 400-seat mark in the Lok Sabha was in 1984, when Congress was propelled by a wave of sympathy after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the prime minister, in October that year. That helped it win nearly half of the vote. This year it may struggle to win more than a fifth. To put up a stronger fight, it has teamed up with more than 30 other parties in the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).
Read more of our coverage of the Indian election, or sign up to Essential India, our free weekly newsletter.
For the opposition, the proposition of toppling the BJP may seem daunting. The ruling party’s strongholds are the north and west, India’s Hindi-speaking heartlands, where its Hindu-nationalist populism has proven popular. The approach has had far less resonance in the richer south, where the BJP has struggled against stronger regional competitors. There is also more hope for the opposition at the state level. The BJP holds only around a third of India’s more than 4,000 state assembly seats. It has suffered defeats to smaller, regional parties, including in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, which have also gone to the polls in the past month.
We will populate the map below with the latest results, seat by seat, once they are declared. 
Winning party in each seat






No result

Sources: Election Commission of India; Trivedi Centre for Political Data; The Economist