Toobie the Tuba

Tinder, like eBay, finds strangers to take your unwanted junk.

Shouldn’t there be a better way?

Dating sites profit from recurring revenue, and the incentives follow from there: The best customers are players. Marriage is attrition, slightly ameliorated by positive word-of-mouth. Divorce is a double payday.

Imagine a diaper business that wants you to stay in diapers indefinitely.

It starts with the free sites, which make it easy for people to send crude sexual propositions. With photos. These sexual spammers take a high-volume, low-probability approach to hookups, and at a tipping point, the free sites become unsavory and creepy.

The creepier the free sites, the more attractive the pay sites. Relationship seekers will pay to escape from hookup culture and sexual spam, the monthly fee a social signal of serious intent.

And look at that: The same company that owns the biggest free sites also owns the biggest pay sites. There’s an IPO in the works for IAC subsidiary Match Group, which owns dating sites including Match, OkCupid and recent acquisition PlentyOfFish. The ultimate “pure play” stock.

That’s why I came up with a concept for a Tinder killer, described below. I think this concept should exist and wouldn’t be ridiculously hard to create. Who’s with me?

August 2015: Investor pitch for a frictional-cost dating service using cause-based signaling

In a “frictional-cost” dating service, the non-zero cost of interaction fosters higher discernment in match selection. In addition, the financial commitment makes it more costly to pursue a high-volume approach.

“Cause-based signaling” allows people to associate their favorite charities with their profiles. In this way, an immediate visual-sensory attraction can be balanced by long-term compatibility through shared values.

Each indication of interest (“swipe right,” in Tinder parlance) triggers a $1 contribution to one of the charitable organizations designated in the profile of the person being viewed. The site itself acts as a frictionless conduit, a fundraising tool for charitable organizations rather than a standalone for-profit business. The operation of the site would be funded by donations and staffed by volunteers.

To minimize transaction costs, participants would fund their accounts in increments based on expected usage (e.g. $20 top-ups). Periodic payouts to charities would aggregate payments from multiple donors.

Example:

Alice likes the opera, volunteers at the Humane Society and recently signed a petition to stop airlines from transporting big-game trophy hides. Bob is a Shakespeare buff who’s big on historic preservation, and donates to an Alzheimer’s research organization in memory of his mother.

Alice sees a picture of Bob. If she wants to meet him, she donates $1 to one of Bob’s causes. Likewise, If Bob wants to meet Alice, he has to donate $1 to one of Alice’s causes.

October 2015: Notice to Beta Users

It has come to our attention that attractive people, even though not in the dating pool, have taken it upon themselves to use suggestive photos to harvest $1 swipes on behalf of their favored charities. These “ringers” threaten the integrity of the service.

Accordingly, the funding model has been changed from pay-per-swipe to pay-per-match. In other words, pledges will be final only in the event of a mutual match. That way, we can have greater certainty of mutual participation in the service.

In light of the $2-per-match donation, the service will be rebranded as Tuba-X™.

Tuba-X™: Make Every Date a Charity Case℠

January 2016: Important Announcement for Tuba-X™ Users

Due to the drop-off in funding caused by the switch from pay-per-swipe to pay-per-match, the $1 standardized pledge size has been replaced by a variable-amount pledging system. Now, you can pledge as much as you want to make your match feel special!

We believe that the amount of the pledge will make it easier for you to signal a stronger commitment both to the charity and to the potential of the match.

We wish you the best in giving your way to happiness!

Tuba-X™: You Gotta Give To Get Happy℠

April 2016: Blog post from the Chief Tuba Officer

We hear your feedback, and we’re listening.

People are asking: “If one person pledges $1 and the other pledges $10, shouldn’t there be a way to make it an equal contribution?”

We think that’s a great point, which is why we’ve added an “Equalize” button in the chat function. So, if one person pledges $1 and the other pledges $10, you can now start the relationship on an equal financial footing with a single click.

At the same time, we’re listening to other voices: “Hey, not everyone has the money for large charitable contributions.”

Great point! That’s why the geniuses on our development team have also added a Tuba-X™ Premium feature: the “I Got This” button. Now, one Tuba-Xer can equalize the difference on behalf of the other Tuba-Xer!

It’s your choice!

Tuba-X™: You’ve Got Brass in Pocket℠

May 2016: Message from the founder

What is wrong with you people?

We at Tuba-X™ were simply trying to create a service to #DisruptDating while improving the experience of charitable giving.

And you’ve turned it into competitive prostitution for charity.

We’ve heard unbelievable stories. A secret signaling “language,” with pledge amounts corresponding to specific unmentionable acts. Third-party rating services. Leaderboards.

We are temporarily ceasing operations until our legal team can assure both you, our dedicated donors, the sponsored charities, and the relevant government agencies, investigators and NGOs that the usage of the site matches its intended purpose.

November 2016: It’s Tuba-X™ Time!

It’s been an exciting time for Tuba-X™ since our recent acquisition by Match Group.

And now, by popular demand, Tuba-X™ has introduced Surge Pricing!

We know your type. And we also know the kind of person who wants to meet you.

Whenever our proprietary algorithms determine that there aren’t enough people like you out there meeting people 😉, we’ll send you an instant notification of the surge multiplier.

Or, name your own price!

Take it from Toobie, our beloved spokestuba: “It’s Tuba-X™ time to get off the couch – sit on someone else’s couch!”

Tuba-X™: Get Horn-y.℠

Image: “Toobie” (2015) by Tamara Schneider