New Squad app is Tinder for friends
Every day, it seems like there's a new app billing itself as the Tinder for something other than dating. There's UPTOP, the Tinder of real estate. Zola, where you can swipe your way to a full wedding registry. TinDog, where dog lovers can find friends for their pooch. And many other imitations.
Now add Squad to that list: It's Tinder for friend groups.
"As we get older, people don't want to admit it, but it does get harder to make new friends," said Adam Liebman, 29, who got the idea for Squad while traveling in Montreal with three male friends. Liebman and his posse wanted to find some more people to hang out with, so he changed his Tinder profile for a night, replacing his solo profile shots with photos of him and his traveling partners. Another Tinder user swiped right, and she brought two friends to hang out with Liebman and his crew.
A year later, "I still keep in touch with one of the people in that group," Liebman said. Now he's trying to replicate that experience for others. Squad launched in New York on Thursday, and Liebman plans to bring it to other cities in the future.
You can't go on Squad solo, hoping to find another friend group to join. Squads are two to six people; once you're in one, you can swipe left or right on other squads. Friend-group matches last only 24 hours, so a crew might assemble for a specific activity -- a night out at a bar, or to watch a football game -- then match with another squad. Once both groups swipe right, squad members can message one another other within the app.
You don't have to commit to a squad for more than 24 hours, either. One night, you could assemble a group of co-workers looking to meet others; the next night, a college crew. The friend-combining could be romantic or purely platonic. "Everyone says they want to meet someone through their friends -- so let's meet someone with your friends and see what happens," Liebman says. "I just think the best relationships come from being friends first."
So what happens if the friend-combining goes as poorly as a bad Tinder date? "You can bounce," Liebman said. Unlike an awkward one-on-one date, you're not obligated to stick around for an appropriate amount of time. "They're still there with their friends," Liebman pointed out.
It sounds like a lot of work just for an evening out, but the app could be more comfortable than those friend setups that happen every time someone moves to a new city. When trying to make new friends resembles dating, "it feels weird and a little bit of pressure -- and friendship isn't supposed to feel that way," said Rachel Bertsche, author of "MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend."
Bertsche hasn't tried Squad, but she likes the idea. When she moved to Chicago five years ago, she did friend-speed-dating and met with a friend matchmaker; "they all felt kind of ancient," she said, adding that she wondered why Match.com didn't exist for friends.
"I think for a long time, people were willing to say: 'I'm looking for love,'" Bertsche said. But looking for friends, on the other hand, might sound desperate. "If you say you're looking for new friends, what people hear is: 'I have no friends.' Those are two very different statements," Bertsche said.
"There are always times in your life when you're looking for new friends," Bertsche added. If you're divorced, you might lose custody of some friends. If you're retired, you might be looking for others with more time on their hands. "For better or worse, these situations come up in our lives," she said.
What about the squad of all squads? Taylor Swift lives in New York now; is she a member? "We haven't reached out to her yet," Liebman said, but of course he'd love to have her on the app.