MIT grad Brandon Wade — king of controversial dating apps — has a new one stirring up controversy: Carrot Dating (carrotdating.com) allows men and women to offer incentives — called “bribes” — to one another in order to snag a date. While some incentives are as innocent as flowers or dinner, others include a big trip or plastic surgery.
This comes on the heels of Wade’s other ventures, sites like SeekingArrangement.com and WhatsYourPrice.com, which hooked up rich men with willing women. Wade insists this isn’t prostitution, nor sexist. In fact, 25 percent of the bribes are initiated by women, he claims.
We asked him more about the slippery slope.
Metro: So Carrot Dating is…?
Wade: Carrot Dating really is bribing somebody for a date. I think when you look at most of my other dating websites, they were founded primarily from my mother’s advice because I was really shy and sort of awkward. My mom saw that, and she basically told me to focus on my school. She said, “Someday when you’re successful, you’ll be generous and turn those around, when it comes to the dating game.” Until I graduated, I was still struggling and still had the constant fear of rejection. I would never walk up to woman and use a pick up line. It’s not my thing.
What you call generosity could be confused with prostitution. Do you agree?
How does generosity equal prostitution? That’s a really long stretch! Prostitution is literally paying for sex. In this case, sex cannot be expected. It’s something people obviously aspire to, especially on a dating site—they look for someone they share chemistry with.
When you look at Carrot Dating, when you look at the most popular types of offers that people have been offering and accepting—the first one being flowers, the second one being dinners—that’s what people do nowadays anyway. He usually buys her dinner or flowers. And, that’s certainly not prostitution.
So why are critics calling the site mysonogist?
(Laughs) Maybe because we called it bribes, as opposed to incentives. Even incentives would be a little bit edgy. I think if we had called it something else, maybe something a little bit less playful or controversial, it wouldn’t have caused as much of an uproar.
Have you ever used any of your websites?
I created Seeking Arrangement because I was just so frustrated with dating. I created that for myself. I was a user, had the very first profile on there.
I know you’re in a relationship right now.
Yes, I met my wife about three years ago. We tied the knot about two years ago.
Did you meet her through a dating website or traditionally?
Traditional, I guess. It was sort of traditional. She applied for a job, and we hired her, and I was working with her, and we kind of started dating and we fell in love and that’s kind of the story. In a way, it was because of the websites that I built.
So there was no carrot?
Yeah, there was no carrot when I was dating my wife, but in a sense there was. I would always give her gifts and presents and things like that or a surprise weekend trip somewhere. But, that is one of the languages of love. Giving presents and giving gifts is one of the five languages of love.