Although the pandemic has put a dent in people’s dating lives, it’s also given a springboard to dating apps.
Hinge has been a popular alternative to the likes of Tinder and Bumble since before the pandemic, and far from killing the app stone dead, 2020 seems to have supercharged it. According to Hinge’s Q4 2020 results, the company tripled its revenues compared with 2019. Its global downloads rose by 63%.
Compared to its competition, Hinge is doing extremely well. App analytics firm Sensor Tower told Insider Hinge’s growth outstripped the five other most-popular dating apps: Tinder, Badoo, Bumble, Happn, and Plenty of Fish. Collectively, these apps’ install numbers only grew by 4% in 2020, according to Sensor Tower.
Similarly on revenue, Hinge’s success seems to have outstripped other dating apps, on average. Lexi Sydow, head of marketing insights at App Annie, said overall consumer spend on dating apps was up 15% year-on-year in 2020.
Insider spoke to Hinge founder and CEO Justin McLeod about how the company is planning to keep this momentum going through 2021, with vaccine rollouts getting people excited for the so-called “hot vax summer.”
Hinge users are looking to couple up
Despite Hinge’s growth over 2020, McLeod said the app had to deal with a peculiar set of “tailwinds and headwinds.”
While the app offered a welcome outlet for people stuck inside to flirt remotely, lockdown measures and colder weather still had an inhibiting effect. The app saw its biggest growth during summer last year, and McLeod is banking on there being another boom in activity this summer.
But while some have expressed a desire to make summer 2021 or “hot vax summer” a bacchanalian affair, McLeod predicts there’ll also be a trend towards people looking for more long-term relationships, based on surveys conducted on Hinge’s users.
“We’ve found at least a third of our users are saying that they have more urgency around wanting to settle down and find and a partner, and more than half of our users are actively seeking that long-term relationship,” McLeod said.
He believes the loneliness felt by many during lockdown could be driving this desire.
“I do think for a lot of people who maybe have been dating for a while and then went through the pandemic and went through it alone, they’re feeling the need for, I think, a partner and companionship more than ever,” he added.
This suits Hinge’s business model. Slating itself as the “dating app designed to be deleted,” Hinge markets itself as less of a hook-up spot than apps like Tinder (which shares a parent company with Hinge).
That doesn’t mean that users less laser-focused on a long-term relationship aren’t catered for on Hinge. McLeod said younger users may feel less urgency around settling down, and said the app saw its biggest growth last year among users in their early 20s.
Whatever users’ preferences, Hinge is planning to capitalize on the “hot vax summer” with new features, McLeod said, although he did not reveal any details. He did, however, highlight the video-chat feature, which Hinge added along with many dating apps during 2020.
“We’ll definitely think about how to make that a more interactive experience that really helps you get a quick spark check before you go out and meet up in person,” he said.
Pandemic or no pandemic, video dating is here to stay
McLeod thinks video dating will survive beyond the coronavirus pandemic, and predicted brief video chats before a first date would become a fixture in people’s dating lives for the next decade.
“No one is more of a proponent of meeting up in person and not spending time on screens than me,” he said. “But I do think that people will find that it’s just really helpful to do a five or ten-minute check that this person is worth meeting up with, before they go meet up in person so that they don’t waste their whole evening, walk in the door and realize like within two seconds that this isn’t the person that they actually want to spend their evening with.”
“I don’t think people will spend like hours and hours on video chat when they could be meeting up in person,” he added.
McLeod is confident about Hinge’s future, however this summer shakes out.
“In a way it feels like we’re the only app for young people that’s really serving this need of more intentioned relationships. I think some of the other ones, like the swipe-apps, are becoming even more explicit about being casual – because I think that’s very much how they’re designed,” he said.
He’s also unbothered by Facebook’s foray into online dating. Despite the social media giant’s resources, he doesn’t think Facebook will be able to poach Hinge’s younger usership.
“We haven’t seen them getting much traction, and I don’t think our target demo really uses Facebook. They don’t trust Facebook,” he said. “They don’t use it generally, much less for dating,” he added.
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Beach reads are highly entertaining books that you can’t put down.
No matter the genre, these beach reads are an immersive escape, whether you’re on vacation or not.
Below are our 27 best beach read recs, including YA, romance, thriller, and non-fiction books.
Beach reads used to be known as mindless, mass-market paperbacks with shirtless men on the cover that we’d throw in our bags, read for an hour, and never care about again. But now, beach reads are an escape, whether your toes are in the sand or not. They take us on vacation, into a new world away from our stresses.
My mark of a good beach read is one with a fully consuming story. Many of these books are ones I’ve read in a single day (or a single sitting), and every one of them pairs perfectly with a day off. Whether it’s a delightfully cheesy romantic comedy or harrowing nonfiction, every book on this list has the potential to whisk you away and make any day a vacation in the sun.
First of all, every Talia Hibbert book belongs on this list. Her romances are known for their sensitivity and steam, but they’re also such enjoyable reads that any one of them is perfect for a relaxing beach day. Danika has no interest in a relationship but asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits. So when a video of sexy security guard Zafir carrying Danika out of a building goes viral, they decide to fake a relationship to promote Zafir’s charity (and help Danika secretly seduce him behind the scenes). I loved Dani’s intelligence and the anti-toxic masculinity storyline around Zafir. Have you ever teared up because a book was so naturally inclusive that it felt like a breath of fresh air? You might once you grab this.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I watch “The Bachelorette” every single week. If you love watching the show’s smart, strong leads who know exactly what they want and refuse to settle, then you will absolutely love this book. Bea is a plus-sized fashion blogger who gets asked to be on a “Bachelorette”-like show. She sees it as an opportunity to grow her brand and show that plus-size women deserve the spotlight, too. Between internet drama and conniving producers, this book is more entertaining than a reality show.
Of course I had to include this one. It’s about two polar-opposite writers staying in neighboring beach houses for the summer, one a romance writer and the other trying to write the next Great American Novel. Faced with writer’s block, they decide to swap topics and spend the summer teaching each other the ins and outs of writing their genres, all while competing to publish their own book first. With plenty of romance, scenes that might make you cry, and an interesting (and accurate) inside look at the process of writing a book, this is an easy one to read in the sun.
Irresistible quality: The enemies-to-friends-to-lovers storyline.
This one starts out a little cheesy, but there’s something so endearing about it that got me hooked. Sloan lost her fiancé two years ago and is still struggling to get her life together when she finds a lost pup named Tucker whose owner, Jason, is on tour in Australia. The two exchange texts and calls, their connection growing as their meeting grows near. But being an international star, Jason might not have time for a relationship and Sloan could end up heartbroken again. This book is super dramatic and full of scandal, giving it all the summer romance vibes you need.
Irresistible quality: A super cute dog — and a dog owner who’s not too bad looking, either.
Christina and Lauren (the co-authors) have written a bunch of fun rom-coms but this is my favorite because it’s absolutely hysterical. Olive (who thinks love is gross) and her sworn enemy Ethan put aside their mutual hatred for an all-expense paid Hawaiian honeymoon after food poisoning hits everyone in her sister’s wedding besides them. When they run into her boss, the entire vacation revolves around pretending to be loving newlyweds. It’s adorable and fast-paced because of the constant (and hilarious) complications that arise.
The day I opened this book, I did absolutely nothing else besides get to the bottom of what the heck was happening in these pages. Lowen is a budding writer, brought to the Crawford home to finish writing Verity’s book series after a car accident left her in a waking coma. While doing research in Verity’s library, Lowen finds an autobiographical manuscript with haunting admissions, so devastating that she chooses to keep them a secret. This is a rollercoaster of lies that will have you trying to guess the truth until the last page.
Irresistible quality: The need to know the truth gets stronger with every lie.
“Gone Girl” is undoubtedly the most famous of Flynn’s novels but “Sharp Objects” is my favorite to recommend as a beach read. It’s a bit shorter — and so twisted that you have to finish it in a day. Camille is an investigative reporter returning to her small town to cover the murder of a young girl. She’s staying with her hypochondriac mother in her childhood bedroom and must unravel some psychological twists in order to uncover the story. This is an incredibly suspenseful thriller and you’ll need the sun to balance out all the dark secrets.
Irresistible quality: A disturbing past that feels all too real.
Anna is spending the summer in the Hamptons on a nannying gig, in a community on edge after the New Year’s Eve disappearance of Zoe Spanos. Anna, who is constantly reminded of her resemblance to Zoe, begins to dig deeper into the unsolved case. Two months later, she finds herself charged with the manslaughter of a girl she’d never met. The book bounces between Anna’s confession and the summer as it unfolds, with an ending that will throw you for a loop — I really thought I had this one all figured out but the last 10 pages blew me away.
Blythe is determined to be the warm and loving mother she never had. She’s convinced that something is wrong with her daughter, even though her husband says she’s exhausted and just imagining things. When her second child is born, the connection between herself and her children is strong and beautiful, until their lives are forever changed. This is another one that demands to be read in one sitting as everything you’ve accepted is eventually overturned. The book’s short chapters have you turning the pages faster and faster as you navigate haunting memories, trauma, and the legacy of motherhood.
Irresistible quality: The ending that will make you want to throw the book in the ocean
This was the first book I read in a single sitting and it’s one I recommend to everyone. Evelyn Hugo is an A-list Hollywood actress who is finally ready to tell her story, but only to one little-known journalist. In this book, we get to hear Evelyn’s story of rising to fame in the ’50s, leaving the business in the ’80s, and marrying seven husbands (all for different reasons) along the way. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes characters and stories that are so vivid, you can’t believe they’re not real. This book is fascinating and a little heartbreaking, and when everything comes together in the end, it might become your new favorite.
Irresistible quality: The desire to know who the love of Evelyn’s life was.
Just when you think you’ve read every World War II story there is to tell, this book comes into your life. It’s about French women’s role in the war — from secret messengers across country lines to wives forced to house German soldiers as bombs drop around them. While 600 pages might warrant a week-long beach stay, I read this in two days and cried twice. It is so achingly beautiful and so hard to pull away.
Irresistible quality: The constant action of women fighting to survive.
In 1940, Flora embarks on a forbidden romance that brings even more tension into a home rocked by devastating changes in the community. Many years later, Flora’s daughter, Lexie, returns to the village with her own daughter to learn about her mother, their past, and the sacrifices made in her name. This multi-generational story is about war, love, and learning from and about our past. The family dynamics — and facing that which lays hidden behind them — make this book so beloved by many.
Irresistible quality: The connection between the generations of women and their homeland.
A fictional account of a real, often-forgotten woman
Maggie O’Farrell’s magical writing elevates an already fascinating book into one that you’ll hold close long after the summer is over. It’s historical fiction, based on the little known (but real) story of Agnes, found in the footnotes of “Hamlet.” In 1580s England, Agnes is a gifted healer, both feared and sought-after, who settles down with her husband and has three children. When her son, Hamnet, dies at age eleven, Agnes’ husband writes a play called “Hamlet.” You absolutely do not need to be a Shakespeare buff to love this story and appreciate its rightful place in history.
The only place Emoni has to let go of her stress is the kitchen, making food that everyone agrees is unparalleled. With a dream to be a chef and an opportunity just out of reach, Emoni needs to find a way to balance her dreams and responsibilities. This one is about hardships: Young motherhood, the harshness of the world, and balancing everything you love. It’s a very character-driven novel, so prepare yourself to become emotionally invested in Emoni’s happiness and success. Elizabeth Acevedo might not be capable of writing anything that’s not incredible, as every book of hers I’ve read has blown me away.
Irresistible quality: The food in this book will make you hungry in real life.
Alex Claremont-Diaz is the first son of the White House with a lifelong nemesis — Prince Henry of British royalty. When Alex confronts Henry at a royal wedding, the story is leaked to the tabloids and the best solution is a publicity stunt: a fake friendship between the two. As Henry and Alex begin to fall in love, the truth threatens to destroy the President’s reelection campaign and even the relations between Britain and America. I love a good queer romance but the added royal aspect, the snarky wit between the boys, and the fun development of the relationship make this a must-read for the summer.
For all four years of high school, Rowan and Neil hate each other, bitter rivals and complete opposites. When Neil is named valedictorian, Rowan finds one last chance to beat him in a scavenger hunt/ninja assassin game played by all seniors after graduation. The plot spans 24 hours, which keeps this book moving quickly. It’s easy to laugh and root for these two as their faux-hateful banter turns quickly to friendship despite years of sworn rivalry.
Irresistible quality: The balance between pure fun and deeper feelings.
Lara Jean does not tell boys that she has a crush on them. Instead, she writes each one a letter and hides them all under her bed. Somehow, these letters have been mailed and all her past crushes, big and small, are confronting her about them. It’s highly amusing because of the reappearance of every crush — from her sister’s ex-boyfriend to her first kiss many years ago. The story is very cute and light, so you can relax in the sun as Lara winds through sisterhood and her past loves towards a romance that leaves you smiling.
Irresistible quality: A light love story to make any beach day brighter.
After her mother passes away, Lina finds her mother’s old journal while spending the summer in Tuscany to get to know her father. Suddenly no longer focused on leaving, Lina begins to follow her mother’s writing through Italy’s streets and discover her secrets with the help of a charming local boy. It’s a summer story of family, first love, and discovery. My favorite quote is “People come to Italy for all sorts of reasons, but when they stay it’s for the same two things… love and gelato.”
Irresistible quality: The adorable love story accompanying the uncovering of long-kept secrets.
The Vignes sisters ran away from their small, southern Black community at 16 and moved on to very different lives; one sister moving back home with her Black daughter; the other passing for white, marrying a white man — and telling him nothing of her past. When their daughters’ lives intersect years later, they begin to uncover the decisions and lies of their mothers. This book is about race, but also exploration, identity, desires, and how our past influences it all. There is so much about this book to love that I read it twice.
Irresistible quality: The stark differences of two sisters with the same upbringing.
This is a coming-of-age story about the friendship between Bunny, a too-tall Olympic hopeful, and Michael, her closeted, home-schooled neighbor. Bunny is desperate to fit in and hide from her father’s alcoholism while Michael is trying to navigate his sexuality while meeting up with men on the internet, the two taking solace in each other’s company. With really intelligent writing that keeps you interested in the characters, it’s an unapologetic and unflinchingly honest telling of two teens seeking human connection.
Irresistible quality: A tender look into the victories and downfalls of two misfits.
This book gets interesting from the first scene, where Emira, a young African-American woman, is accused of kidnapping Briar, the white child she babysits, while walking around the grocery store. Alix, the blogger mom of the child, tries to right the situation that quickly gets farther and farther out of control. Emira and Briar are hugely loveable characters that contrast heavily with the supposedly well-intentioned Alix, making this an entertaining read as well as a broader commentary on race, class, and influencer culture.
Irresistible quality: How true-to-life the story feels.
Katherine Center is so good at writing hardships that leave you feeling hopeful. This one is about Cassie, one of the only female firefighters in her firehouse. With rundown facilities, no funding to fix them, and an environment that borders on toxic, the men aren’t thrilled to have a woman join the crew, even though she’s more competent than most of them. When the handsome new guy is the only one nice to her, Cassie has to constantly remind herself that she doesn’t date firefighters. Katherine Center writes stories that have you rooting for the main character with every part of your heart and soul, and this one is true to form.
Irresistible quality: The protagonist’s complete badassery.
Elin Hilderbrand is basically the ultimate beach read writer, churning out smooth reads that end in cliffhangers. After the sudden, tragic death of her husband, Irene travels to St. John to investigate the unusual circumstances in which he died, stumbling upon the secrets of a man she may not have known as well as she thought. I loved this for a summer read because the characters are easy to understand, the drama keeps you interested, and there’s just enough romance to have me rooting for love.
Irresistible quality: The tropical tourist destination setting.
This book is a highly researched history about Churchill’s actions and reactions in Britain during the WWII era. It follows him as well as his family and friends through the fear surrounding London as Hitler kills 45,000 Britains in a bombing campaign, having invaded Holland and Belgium on Churchill’s first day as Prime Minister. Erik Larson writes history like an unfolding drama, so you’ll find yourself learning and invested in the story.
Irresistible quality: The diaries and formerly classified intelligence reports.
This is the story of the mothers who raised and shaped Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. Faced with Jim Crow-era racism, little has been previously said of the incredible women who taught these men the beliefs of justice and equality that would change the world. The book is filled with love and compassion, the motherhood weaving through every page. It brings the experience of Black women and mothers into the conversation while truly demonstrating their vital significance in the ongoing fight against oppression.
Irresistible quality: The untold stories of three extraordinary women.
In nearly every aspect of our society, women are systematically ignored. From the way crash test dummies, voice recognition software, and even medicinal dosing have been designed, the data that drives nearly every aspect of our lives revolves around men. This book can be a little appalling as the well-researched case studies shed light on an unconscious bias in our society that might start to feel more and more obvious as you learn more about it.
Irresistible quality: The data to back up every claim.
As soon as I found out about this phenomenon of “The Radium Girls” I dove headfirst into this book. During the First World War, they were working in factories to get radium — a newly discovered magical drug — into the hands of the public. The girls were covered in radium, literally glowing from the chemical all over their bodies after leaving their coveted jobs. But when they began to fall ill, the factories ignored their claims that it could be from the radium. It’s the story of a fight for workers’ rights, one that saved so many lives because the women demanded to be heard. It’s also such a remarkable story that it’s easy to forget it’s true.
Irresistible quality: The tension created from fighting for what’s right.
Energy sector exchange-traded funds were the only group this week to add more than $1 billion in inflows as the cargo-ship blockage in the Suez Canal helped oil prices recover from their slump into correction territory.
Energy ETFs were a standout as flows to sector funds “fell prey to the general uncertainty” that ran through the week ended March 24, said EPFR, a subsidiary of Informa that provides fund flows and asset allocation data.
Four of the 11 major groups — commodities, telecoms, technology and financial sector funds — logged outflows for the week, according to a note issued Friday.
Investors pushed into energy sector funds “during a week when the blockage of the Suez Canal, the prospect of the North American spring and summer driving season and expectations of less investment in new supply helped the price of oil rebound from an earlier correction,” said Cameron Brandt, director of research at EPFR, in the note.
Brent oil, the international benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate crude prices tracking US light, sweet crude this week fell into correction territory, with prices down 10% or more from recent highs.
Prices have since recovered some ground, with Brent and WTI each rising by more than 4% on Friday. Brent traded above $64 a barrel after sliding below $61 this week. WTI hovered close to $61 following its drop under $58 a barrel.
Oil prices gained on expectations of tighter oil supplies while a cargo ship remains stuck in the Suez Canal, a key trade route that’s used to transport crude and refined products and connects Europe to Asia. Analysts have said it may be weeks before the Ever Given, a nearly 200-foot-wide and 1,300-foot-long vessel, is dislodged from the canal.
“The blockage has impacted over 20 oil tankers and the longer this lasts, it should drive oil prices higher,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. Meanwhile, “Europe is slowly getting their vaccine rollout in order and that should trigger energy traders to price in an improved crude demand outlook by the summer,” he said.
As the summer driving season approaches in the US, roughly 14% of the population has been vaccinated for the coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. President Joe Biden on Thursday raised his vaccination goal to 200 million for the first 100 days of his administration after hitting his previous target of 100 million.
Eager cruisers will finally be able to cruise around the Bahamas this summer aboard Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity ship.
In total, Crystal Cruises will be offering 32 seven-night trips from July to October starting from Bahamas’ Nassau or Bimini. The cruises will then shuttle passengers to five other destinations around the country: San Salvador, Long Island, Great Exuma, Harbour Island, and Bimini or Nassau, the latter depending on the sailing’s starting point.
“Crystal Cruises will go on record as the only cruise line offering Bahamas-only voyages … and the support that these cruises will bring to multiple communities within the country will be tremendous,” Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas’ minister of tourism and aviation, said in a statement. The Crystal Serenity will also be the “first ocean ship to sail from the Americas” since the ongoing cruising pause first began in 2020, according to a blog post from the Bahamas.
Bookings for the tropical cruises will open on March 18 starting at $2,000 per person. The sailings will also follow Crystal Cruises’ “Crystal Clean+” measures, which include arrangements like contactless dining, mask-wearing on certain parts of the ship, and social distancing protocols.
Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics are already the most expensive summer games ever.
And that’s before the games have even taken place.
The Japanese public is largely against holding the Olympics, and there’s no guarantee they will happen at all. Now, the City of Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee, and athletes themselves are bleeding cash to keep the dream alive.