Culture

Is this the best tech CEO interview ever? Or not quite?

Technically Incorrect: Tinder CEO Sean Rad claims he turns supermodels down, and he appears to think "sodomy" is the word for an intellectual challenge in love. Depressing or heartening?

"I don't care if someone is a model. Really. It sounds clichéd and almost totally unbelievable for a guy to say this, but it's true. I need an intellectual challenge."

I fancy that many clever young sorts become CEOs of tech companies for precisely this: an intellectual challenge. They don't care if there are (role) models out there. They need to prove themselves.

So the quote above, uttered by Tinder CEO Sean Rad, moved me, until I inspected it more closely. He was actually talking about a supermodel who allegedly has been "begging" him for sex.

This revelation -- and so many more -- came from an interview published Wednesday by London's Standard newspaper.

The instant-swiping dating site's parent company, Match Group, is scheduled to set its IPO price on Wednesday evening.

It's odd, then, that this interview appeared during what is referred to as the "quiet period," when executives of companies going public are requested to put themselves on mute. It certainly doesn't seem like a quiet interview.

In it, Rad appears to present an unfiltered version of himself, in which he freely discusses his sexual history as well as his relationship with his mother.

Rad offers that he used to be "awkward" around girls and said he'd slept with 20 women. You must decide what this reveals about a 29-year-old tech CEO, just as you must decide whether a 29-year-old who talks to his mom every day, as Rad said he does, is perfectly adjusted.

Tinder has been -- unfairly in my view -- targeted as the reason for the allegedly louche behavior of the young. The company's Twitter account raged against an August (but perhaps not august) article in Vanity Fair entitled "Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse."

Tinder has been keen to suggest that its service merely enhances the chances of true love, which is what everyone really wants. Well, ultimately.

Perhaps that's why Rad insists that he's being chased by a supermodel but desires higher planes. He told the Standard that this supermodel called him a prude for not giving up his body so readily.

But then he reportedly uttered perhaps one of the finest thoughts I've ever read in a tech interview. It concerned his need for an intellectual challenge in love: "Apparently there's a term for someone who gets turned on by intellectual stuff. You know, just talking. What's the word?"

The Standard then narrates that Rad's face creased with the effort of trying to remember, and then he said, "'I want to say, 'sodomy'?"

I want to say, "Good Lord above."

Could it be that the CEO of a fine modern dating site doesn't know what sodomy is? Could it be that he meant "sapiosexual"? Or "sane"?

Could it be that this is, in its way, one of the most revealing, honest expositions of a tech CEO that has ever been presented, even if (or rather, because) some of his answers appear so very from the heart?

Tinder didn't respond to a request for comment.

Rad is in his second stint as the company's CEO. He was replaced as chief last year after Tinder settled a sexual harassment suit brought by its former vice president of marketing, Whitney Wolfe. In the suit, Wolfe accused co-founder Justin Mateen of harassment and claimed the company's management allowed the behavior that ultimately forced her out. Rad returned as CEO in August.

Rad says he's currently a regular, "addicted" Tinder user. I wonder what sort of women choose to meet him. Only intellectuals, surely.