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Match Law Chief’s Pay Soared as Company Prepped Google Suit (1)

May 11, 2022, 9:30 AMUpdated: May 11, 2022, 2:17 PM

Match Group Inc. gave its its chief business affairs and legal officer a more than four-fold pay boost as the company prepared an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.'s Google that was filed this week.

Jared Sine received more than $16.9 million in total compensation last year, including a stock award valued at nearly $15.6 million, a $500,000 base salary, and a $900,000 bonus, the company disclosed in a proxy filing.

Sine, a former associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Latham & Watkins, received roughly $3.6 million in 2020. He joined Match as its general counsel in 2016, became legal chief four years later, and took on the additional business affairs title in 2021.

Match sued Google on May 9, accusing the company of monopolistic practices over app store billing rules that have also been the subject of other lawsuits.

Hueston Hennigan is representing Match in that matter. The Los Angeles-based litigation boutique spun off in 2015 from Irell & Manella.

Dallas-based Match, spun off in 2020 from billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActivCorp, owns dating apps such as Match.com, Tinder, OkCupid, OurTime, Plenty of Fish, and Hinge.

Sine didn’t respond to a request for comment and a Match spokeswoman declined to discuss personnel matters.

Tinder Change

Match has also appointed a new legal leader for its Tinder business in Laura Blau Michel. She is a former intellectual property associate at California-based law firm Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear. Match hired Michel in 2017 as its first in-house lawyer focused solely on its most popular dating app.

Michel’s LinkedIn profile includes a statement last month about her new job, which she identifies as senior vice president and associate general counsel. She leads Tinder’s global legal team and is part of the Match subsidiary’s executive leadership.

Michel didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Tinder’s previous top lawyer, Brittany Perez, is a former associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges who was hired by Match in 2009. Perez became associate general counsel for the Americas at Match before moving over to Tinder in late 2020.

Perez left Tinder last month and said in June she will become deputy general counsel at SeatGeek Inc., a mobile ticketing platform poised to go public.

CEO Transition

Match announced May 3 its appointment of a new chief executive officer in Bernard Kim, most recently president of mobile gaming company Zynga Inc.

Kim succeeds Sharmistha Dubey, who is stepping down later this month after Match posted disappointing financial results. Dubey spent 16 years in a variety of roles at Match but took on the CEO role in early 2020 following the resignation of predecessor Mandy Ginsberg.

In December, Match agreed to a $441 million settlement in a $2 billion lawsuit filed by former Tinder co-founder, chairman, and CEO Sean Rad. He, along with the dating app’s other founders and early employees, had alleged that Diller and IAC deceived them about the true value of the company.

The agreement ended an almost month-long trial before the dispute went before a jury. Match was represented by Bill Carmody of Susman Godfrey, while the Rad-led plaintiffs were advised by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Orin Snyder.

Executive Compensation

Match’s 2021 proxy, filed April 29, shows that the departing Dubey received a pay package last year valued at nearly $25.4 million. The bulk of the outgoing CEO’s pay stemmed from more than $21.3 million in stock awards.

Match also disclosed how much it paid in 2021 to two former lawyers from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Gary Swidler, a former Wachtell associate who now serves as Match’s COO and CFO, received almost $15.4 million in total compensation last year. Most of that sum came from a nearly $12.7 million stock award.

Pamela Seymon, a former Wachtell corporate partner who has been a Match board member since 2015, took home almost $305,000 in total compensation with $55,000 of that sum in the form of cash and the balance in company stock.

Wachtell has long enjoyed close ties to Match and its former parent company IAC, which in late 2020 promoted former firm associate Kendall Handler to general counsel. Handler received almost $4.8 million in total compensation during her first year as IAC’s legal chief in 2021, per a proxy statement also filed April 29.

Grindr Going Public

Match’s recent moves anointing a new CEO and going after Google comes as another dating app provider, Grindr LLC, said Monday it plans to go public by merging with Tiga Acquisition Corp., a blank check company.

Tiga is being advised by Milbank on the deal, which will value Grindr at $2.1 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

Grindr, which serves the LBGTQ+ community, has turned to Cooley for counsel on the proposed transaction. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is representing Raine Group LLC in its role as financial adviser to Grindr. Privately held Grindr announced last week its plans to cover gender affirmation surgery costs for its employees.

The West Hollywood, Calif.-based company was sold by its former Chinese owner for $600 million in 2020 to San Vicente Acquisition LLC after U.S. officials expressed concern over Grindr’s data privacy practices.

Grindr’s legal chief is William Shafton, a former senior associate at Winston & Strawn hired by the company in 2017. Grindr, founded in 2009, hired Kenneth Priore that year as its first general counsel. He left in 2015.

Meanwhile, Bumble Inc., a dating app provider led by Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, disclosed in a proxy filing last month that its chief legal and compliance officer Laura Franco wasn’t among its top three highest-paid executives last year. Franco, a former general counsel at CBS Corp., joined Bumble in late 2020. Bumble and Match resolved IP litigation over Tinder’s “swipe” function in 2020.

(Updates with Perez move to SeatGeek in 12th paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com

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