Hate is the new love

Have you ever experienced that moment when you are talking with a stranger and you find out you both hate, let´s say, the Super Bowl? Doesn’t it make you feel like you both share a unique connection? So unique that it may be the beginning of a happy relationship?

That’s the meet-cute story of a woman Brendan Alper, CEO and founder of the dating app Hater, likes to share when explaining the appeal of his app. “In America, the Super Bowl is huge. Everyone watches it,” he says. “A woman reached out to us and told us she met her boyfriend on Hater. They both hated the Super Bowl. On that specific evening, they got together and had some cheese dips as they watched a movie instead of football.”

„A woman met her boyfriend on Hater, because they both hated the Super Bowl.“
Hater-CEO Brendan Alper © Tobias Schreiner
Hater-CEO Brendan Alper © Tobias Schreiner

In the last year and a half, Alper’s come a long way – from a stable, well-paid job at Goldman Sachs to developing an app based on a comedy sketch. “I wanted to move to Los Angeles and write comedy shows,” he explains. “Hater was originally a comedy sketch I had in mind. It started off as a joke.”

It’s a joke that appealed to more than 400,000 users worldwide. Based on mutual preferences, the app connects people who dislike and like the same things. You love Lord of the Rings but Harry Potter is so not your cup of tea? No problem! Hater collects your answers and matches you with people who share your interests.

By allowing users to like, dislike, love and hate, Hater creates a transparent online world where people can be honest about their personality. After swiping, the user gets the chance to see exactly how many people have the same preference. If you are in the 13% that hate Wikileaks you know that to meet a person who feels the same way is something special by itself.

“It started off as a joke.“

Despite its name, Hater aims to promote empathy and mutual understanding. “The important thing is that Hater is not about hate speech,” Alper says. “We want to make sure no trolls come in and use the platform.”

Alper and his team regulate this by adding the categories themselves. “I came up with the idea when I would just have conversation with friends and tell them about Hater and they would immediately start listing things they hate. I would carry a small notepad and write them down,” he says. 

„Hater is not about hate speech.“

So, has Hater disrupted the dating app ecosystem? Alper argues that it has – or at least carved out an important niche. Hater’s positioned itself between two giants: on the one hand, there are the older dating sites which focus on personality, like OKCupid and match.com. “There is a stigma about them. They are clunky and a little hard to use, time consuming and expensive,” Alper says.

When Tinder came into play, it changed completely how we look at dating apps: Now, basically, only pictures matter. The result is a lot of bad dates, since one doesn’t get to know the person beforehand. “What we are trying to do is make this personality part fun. It´s important to have all those small things upfront so that people can make good decisions about who they want to start a relationship with.” 

Alper confesses that he uses Hater himself, although he is in a happy relationship. His aim is to take Hater even further and make the app a bridge between the social and the dating world. “We want it to be just like a bar: When you come into a bar, there are people who are single and people who are with their friends or girlfriends. They are all there for different reasons but they all have fun,” he says. “If you meet someone, that’s great, but if you don’t it´s still OK, because you had fun.” He envisions a future where users will connect via Hater for the pleasure of communicating -- and not only because they want to get laid. That future may be a long way off, he admits. For now, the next thing on his agenda is launching for Android.

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