Former Tinder CEO strikes back against sexual misconduct accusations with defamation lawsuit
Former Tinder CEO Greg Blatt has filed a defamation lawsuit against Sean Rad and Rosette Pambakian, seeking at least $50 million in damages and accusing them of having “conspired to make false allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Blatt with the specific intent to damage Blatt’s good name, personal and professional reputation, and credibility.”
In response, Rad and Pambakian’s attorney Orin Snyder described the suit as part of a campaign “to retaliate against and smear a victim of sexual assault and the person who reported it.”
Last year, Rad (Tinder’s co-founder and former CEO), Pambakian (its former vice president of marketing and communications) and other Tinder founders and executives filed a lawsuit against Tinder’s parent company Match Group and its majority shareholder IAC, accusing them of financial manipulation to lower the company’s valuation and stripping the plaintiffs of lucrative stock options.
The suit also accused Blatt (pictured above) of groping and sexually harassing Pambakian at the company’s 2016 holiday party, when Blatt was still Tinder’s CEO. In response to the suit, Match and IAC said the claims were meritless.
At the time, Pambakian was still employed at Tinder. She later dropped out of the suit due to an arbitration agreement, and was fired a few months after, leading her to claim that Match did this “in blatant retaliation for joining a group of colleagues and Tinder’s original founding members in a lawsuit against Match and IAC, standing up for our rights, calling out the company’s CEO Greg for sexual misconduct, and confronting the company about covering up what happened to me.”
Pambakian is now pursuing a separate suit against Blatt and Match Group, accusing them of wrongful termination and sexual assault.
Blatt’s new suit, however, claims:
Rad and Pambakian have attempted to weaponize an important social movement, undermining the plight of true victims of sexual abuse by making false accusations in cynical pursuit of a $2 billion windfall … Blatt is expected to be a key witness for IAC and Match in the Valuation Lawsuit. Damaging Blatt’s credibility and tarnishing his character are important elements of Pambakian’s and Rad’s litigation strategy in that action.
The suit also says that the encounter with Pambakian at the Tinder holiday party involved consensual flirting and kissing, but that they “never engaged in any further physical encounters” and made mutual apologies the following Monday.
According to the suit, Rad filed a complaint months later accusing Blatt of harassing Pambakian, and the complaint “was thoroughly investigated by in-house counsel and two outside law firms,” who concluded that there was no harassment or abuse.
The holiday party and Rad’s subsequent complaint are also discussed in a draft of Blatt’s resignation letter from Tinder (which has been obtained by TechCrunch and other publications), in which Blatt said that after joining a “female executive” and other Tinder employees in a hotel room, he “engaged in some snuggling and nuzzling (I can’t come up with words that better describe what I would call the most superficial of human contact) with the female executive.”
Blatt went on to describe his behavior as “really dumb,” while also insisting that “the snuggling and nuzzling was consensual.”
Blatt’s complaint includes an email that appears to be from Rad to his financial advisor, written shortly before Rad’s complaint, in which he wrote about Blatt: “Fuck him. We’re at war. We will destroy him.”
The suit also claims that Rad and the firm Bench Walk Advisors offered Pambakian millions of dollars for participating in the lawsuit. (Snyder told The Verge there were no upfront payments for participation: “The only payments were triggered by IAC/Match retaliating against plaintiffs by stripping away their hard-earned equity.”)
Here’s Snyder’s full statement in response to Blatt’s suit:
This is a new low for IAC/Match and their former CEO. They continue to retaliate against and smear a victim of sexual assault and the person who reported it. Their attacks are based on lies and documents that are taken out of context. When all of the evidence comes to light, it will be obvious what happened here. It’s shameful that these public companies are continuing to cover-up the truth.