Having grown up in Utah, Jared Sine was naturally drawn to his alma mater’s football team, the Brigham Young University Cougars. The school has the reputation of being a quarterback factory thanks to the likes of Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon, and Steve Young, so there’s a reason why Sine relates the role of general counsel to that of a field general. From the time he was a young law student, Sine was studying the X’s and O’s of the legal field to best prepare himself to become a general counsel. He gravitated toward mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and ultimately went on to lead Expedia’s M&A efforts from 2012 to 2016. Given the multitude of challenges a general counsel faces, he believed that M&A would best prepare him because of the exposure M&A lawyers, or “deal quarterbacks,” as Sine refers to them, receive to all areas of the legal practice, including contract and employment law, litigation, intellectual property (IP), and more.
Looking back on his time at Expedia, Sine praises how the company provides customers with newfound freedom when making travel plans. He has since found a similar concept in Match Group, a company that owns and operates more than forty-five online dating brands, including Match.com, Tinder, and OKCupid. However, the technological formula is much different.
The general counsel and corporate secretary for Match Group spoke with Modern Counsel about some of the unique challenges the company faces as a result, why safety is an important priority, and what it takes to be a leader in the legal field.
The field of M&A has always been a passion of yours. How does that field translate into your work at Match Group?
First and foremost, when you’re operating in an M&A role, you really are the quarterback of the deal. It’s your obligation to get the deal done. It teaches you that you have to break through the barriers, whatever they may be. You have to figure out the way to get things done when everybody else says no. Two, it helps you to understand how to deal with immense stress and pressure. There are very few experiences in life that match the stress level that comes from trying to finalize a billion-dollar merger under a tight time line. Finally, in the M&A space, you’re touching so many disciplines. But there are opportunities for you to add real value for your client if you understand the way that deals are structured, if you understand the way that businesses operate and the desired business outcomes.
It’s a lot to get your mind around, but if you can understand these disciplines well enough—understand how to leverage your team members, leverage your IP specialists, leverage your accountants, leverage the other individuals you are working with—then you can find incredibly meaningful ways to add real value to the transactions that you’re working on.
Match Group is in a unique industry in comparison to your previous tenures. Are there challenges you face that you haven’t in your past work?
We have customer complaints like you have in any business, but ours can be a little different. People are maybe unhappy that they didn’t find the love of their life, which can add an additional element of frustration. It’s just so personal and so important to our users that people often try to make claims out of things that are completely outside of our control. People get into relationships that sometimes end in frustrating or unfortunate ways, as they do regardless of whether people meet online, at a bar, or in church. Sometimes, you’ll have people look back and say, “Hey, Match, you should be responsible for whatever outcome happened down the road.”
Well, we’re sympathetic to that in that we never want anyone to come on our platform and meet someone that they may not have a great relationship or experience with. We definitely empathize with people when they’re in those situations, but at the end of the day, our job as a platform is to help people meet other people. We really can’t control whether Cupid’s arrows are on target or not.
The other thing that’s interesting in this business is that a lot of our revenue comes from a subscription-based model, where people come in and say, “We like your service, we’re going to sign up, and we’re going to subscribe.” We work to ensure that people have a good experience throughout the life cycle of their time on our platform. As they go through auto-renewal cycles, we work to provide clear, understandable terms to try and make sure that they’re comfortable with them. It’s important from a business perspective, but it’s also important from a legal perspective, because there are legal requirements and laws that dictate what terms need to say and what they can’t say.
Speaking of the legal department’s role, how does it directly ensure that users are having the best experience possible while still staying safe on the company’s platforms?
This is something we take very seriously: making sure that our users have appropriate safety and related information and maintaining a responsive platform that tries to address these issues. Of course, we have to comply with laws, so it’s important for us to make sure that we are being thoughtful about the legal requirements in this space. We make sure we have safety tips on our sites that our users can look to as guidelines to help them.
Additionally, we have our moderation tools and our review tools in an effort to remove inappropriate images and inappropriate profile information from our platforms. We also have tools that allow our users to report inappropriate or offensive behavior. We work to make sure that when we’re getting reports of bad behavior, we’re acting on those appropriately.
When it comes to privacy regulations, how do those influence the responsibility of your department?
One of the very first things I did when I got here was to look at the privacy aspects of our business. It’s really key for our users to trust us and know that we’re going to do the right thing as it relates to privacy. One of the things you see as you look out at the global landscape is that there is a lot of difference of opinion in terms of privacy and the way people’s privacy should be treated. In Europe, you have a very strong focus on privacy, ensuring that privacy of individuals is top priority for every global business. As a result, you have regulation that mirrors that attitude. Privacy is important to us. We have some very important data that people trust us with. We want to make sure we’re doing the right things with that data, that we’re being thoughtful about it, and that we’re complying with the laws
Another thing I did when I got here was recruit and hire a global head of privacy based in Europe. We brought in someone who could handle and address privacy issues on a global basis—who could really direct the privacy strategy for our business—to make sure that we’re compliant with applicable laws.
It sounds like the strong culture at Match Group really lends itself to this practice.
That’s one of the best parts about working for a technology company. People at technology companies believe they can revolutionize the world, which they really can. You’ve got big thinkers, big dreamers, people who believe they can achieve great things, and so you’ve got to have a legal department that says, “We can do that.” The legal department has to be there to help support and facilitate those dreams, of course, in a legally compliant way, and in a way that allows those dreamers to have those dreams so we can build the cool things that we build.
If the legal department is thinking too small, or if we’re not dreaming as big as the dreamers around us, then we’re going to hamstring them. We’re going to stunt the growth of our business, and we’re all going to suffer as a result of it.
Did you know?
Sundays aren’t a day off for Jared Sine. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he spends five or more hours most Sundays at church giving back, including teaching classes and serving as lay clergy.
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP:
“We admire Jared’s innovative thinking and vision as Match Group continues to pursue industry-changing initiatives and technologies. Thank you for making us proud to be your partner.”
—Robert Platt, Partner