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With new money in tow, Hinge wants to be the fast-forward button of meeting people

Tinder may be getting lots of attention for having reduced romantic interaction down to the swiping of a screen, but Hinge has shaking things up by adding an element of trust: The mutual connection.

And it might be onto something, as the company announced today that it has raised a fresh $4.5 million for its dating app.

Like other dating apps, New York City-based Hinge is a mobile-based, lightweight service that helps allegedly single folks find and meet potential romantic matches. However, it’s more of a mashup of a granular hot-or-not (singles give each match a 1-to-4 rating), and rests on the idea that people will mesh well with people in their extended social circles — the friends of friends. Singles sign in using their Facebook profiles, which the app then uses to pull out potential matches.

“The app introduces you to the people you might meet anyway, at a friend’s house party or wedding, but haven’t had the chance yet,” said Hinge founder and chief executive Justin McLeod to VentureBeat back in January. “Hinge is basically a smarter, faster version of meeting dates through friends. We’re delivering serendipity to your phone, instead of leaving those encounters to chance.”

Other dating apps have also been leveraging the friends-of-friends idea, including MyCuteFriend, Thread, Wings, Clique, 3Degrees, FriendlyLook, Yoke, and Acquaintable to name a few.

But it looks like Hinge isn’t content with just being yet another dating app.

“Swiping and matching is just the beginning. Our vision is to become a social discovery network, where you’ll go to find and interact with people you’d like to meet, but haven’t yet. This means evolving the product to further foster meaningful interactions between users,” the company said in an email to VentureBeat.

This is tricky. As we’ve previously seen, people don’t want to meet new people if it’s not for romantic purposes. While Tinder is a smash hit, the At the Pool team has pivoted to Yeti, an app all about local info, not making friends.

But maybe Hinge can succeed. As Tagged cofounder and chief executive Greg Tseng once said, social discovery is like going to a party, and lots of scenarios and outcomes are possible. Connecting with your friends’ friends who are also at the party is a very likely outcome — who hasn’t had that happen to them? Hinge could very well be the fast-forward button to the normal socialization process.

While that remains to be seen, Hinge now has a new bag of cash from Founders Fund and Lowercase Capital in its quest to make that work. CAA Ventures, Lumia Capital, Middleland Capital, and Great Oaks also participated in this round.

Hinge started out in Washington, D.C. and has since expanded to other East Coast cities and landed in San Francisco in January.

Hinge was founded in 2011 and is now based in New York City. The company previously raised $4 million as a first institutional round from Founders Fund, Lowercase Capital, Social+ Capital, 500Startups, Great Oaks, and Red Swan, among others.

Hinge -- screenshots

Founders Fund is a San Francisco based venture capital firm which invests at every stage in companies with revolutionary technologies. The firm’s six partners, Peter Thiel, Sean Parker, Ken Howery, Luke Nosek, Bruce Gibney, and Brian… read more »

Hinge is a Reston, Virginia-based brand marketing consultancy specializing in helping professional services firms conceive and build pivotal brands. We do this through research, strategy, creative and multiple marketing avenues…. read more »

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