In May last year, I wrote about a new dating app called Qemistry. I believe I used the term ‘gimmick’ only once, but the entire piece was firmly against the app, which seemed to genuinely believe it was heralding the next sexual revolution by replacing photographs on dating sites with short videos. I published the piece, laughed about it with some friends, and that appeared to be that.
Renaming. The Sauce.
Now Qemistry is back, relaunched and rebranded after only a couple of months. It’s called The Sauce, and you don’t swipe left or right through profiles. That appears to be the end of the changes. Let’s look at these in turn. In my original article, I lambasted the name because I assumed that everyone would know the ‘Q – U’ rule, where any time a word contains the letter ‘Q’ it must be followed by a ‘U’ – ‘question’ and ‘unique’, for example. It turns out that the founder of Qemistry’s first language isn’t English, and he had no idea about the rule. The fact that no native English speakers mentioned this to him makes me curious about the workplace, but never mind. Appropriately, ‘The Sauce’ isn’t much better. Picture this: you’re sitting and chatting about online dating and someone mentions The Sauce, and gives it a good review. Later, you decide to try and download the app yourself, but instead of ‘sauce’ you write ‘source’ and instead end up browsing the reference section of someone’s dissertation. Ten years later, you’re collecting your PHD and buying a cat, single and well educated, all because nobody explained homophones to The Sauce’s founder.
The other change is much more interesting. In an interview, The Sauce’s founder Sachin Karia explained that many people have become bored with swiping left and right on prospective matches and aren’t engaged with that anymore. So The Sauce removed it. Conceptually, this is a much bigger shift than their masturbatory self-congratulation of videos over pictures. By removing the option to swipe, The Sauce has become much more like social media for single people. As TikTok censors dating-based content, The Sauce has an opportunity to become a slightly more adult version of the Gen Z app, where people can be openly sexual, provocative and proactive in scoring dates. It’ll be interesting to see if people leave the app when they’re in closed relationships and therefore shouldn’t be on dating apps, or if the whole thing will shift to a social media platform where one can flirt, if they choose to.
I think it would also be worth mentioning The Sauce’s website, which contains an absolutely astonishing claim. According to The Sauce (and kids, please think critically about the possible bias), 95% of people who meet on The Sauce for a date go on to have a second. Sit with that for a moment. If you meet up with someone you met on The Sauce, you’re almost guaranteed to see them again. It’s incredible to the point of being unbelievable. Now, if this is true (and I really don’t think it is), this would make The Sauce probably the most successful dating app ever. In fact, it would probably be the most successful dating tool of all time. We should all give up our blind dates, cancel the singles’ event we were planning and delete Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Match.com, PlentyOfFish, ChristianMingle and Silver Singles and just frantically run towards The Sauce. Unless you’re only looking for one night stands, in which case you should probably promptly delete your profile because clearly, The Sauce is guiding you towards marital bliss, whether you like it or not.
I’m not sure what to make of the fact that Qemistry was launched less than a year ago and has already been rebranded, complete with a name change. Think about how much social media platforms like Instagram have changed over the years, in a series of steps that reflect the desires of the users. They’ve updated the layout, been bought by Facebook, switched to focus on social interaction over being a photo-based tool, introduced a short video feature and now have over a billion users, and should be on two billion next year. Clearly, Instagram is doing something right. But for The Sauce, a rebrand this early on feels like a false start. They’re not just making a few small tweaks: they’ve changed their name, which means any marketing will be redundant because they don’t have the name recognition. They’ve got rid of the swipe feature, which is another huge shift from the traditional dating titans like Tinder and Bumble. The Sauce will certainly paint a picture of itself as an incredibly successful app, but it remains to be seen if this is actually true.
So, The Sauce. It’s got investors and a potentially interesting new gambit, even if the original concept of videos over pictures is still daft. Nevertheless, I think that it’s puffing up its statistics and remains, for now, unreliable and could easily deflate at any moment, leaving its users to walk around Shoreditch, gazing at billboards advertising glitzy new dating apps and wondering if they’re the same as before or if another bright-eyed startup has come to fill the void.