A Perfect Match

A Perfect Match

Former gaming executive Bernard Kim ’98 brings his love for all things digital to his role as CEO of Match Group, the online dating juggernaut.

By Diana Griffith

An avid gamer and industry executive, Bernard Kim ’98 knows how to win. He helped launch the mobile publishing arm of Electronic Arts—creators of the megahit SimCity and the omnipresent EA Sports brand. As president of social gaming giant Zynga, Kim drove the firm’s expansion into new markets and platforms such as blockchain, Snapchat, and smart home devices. Now, he’s turned his sights to a new kind of online connection as chief executive officer of Match Group, a global leader in online dating that is home to Tinder, Hinge, Match, The League, BLK, and a host of other apps.

The move was a natural evolution for Kim, who says gaming was always more about connection than competition for him. “My sister and I played video games together growing up, and it helped bring us close to one another,” he recalls. “It was something we had in common, that we had a shared passion about.”

In fact, he says the gaming and dating industries have much in common—online engagement, market penetration, and a shared emphasis on using technology to spark real-time connections. There are a few key differences, he notes: “Match Group is responsible for five marriages per minute, so the stakes are so much higher!”

Kim began his tenure at Match with a worldwide listening tour to learn more about what sets the company apart, meeting with multiple teams to identify their unique challenges and opportunities. “We’re in a really critical time period, particularly with AI and how we can use it for good, to help bring people together in the real world,” says Kim. Another takeaway was seeing that each office displayed hundreds of wedding invitations and announcements sent by satisfied customers, says Kim: “I love that our teams take such pride in being part of every step of the dating journey.”

His BC Experience

Over the course of his career, Kim has presented at SXSW and other major tech conferences, been interviewed on multiple major news networks, spoken at the U.S. Senate’s AI Insights Forum, mentored aspiring tech entrepreneurs and leaders, and helped advance Asian representation at the top of the industry.

Surprisingly, Kim says he was actually “a bit reserved” when he first arrived at BC, having grown up in a strict Korean household, but his time at the Heights gave him new confidence. “I feel like I discovered my voice at Boston College—who I was and what was important to me, and that was driven not only by the excellent classes but also the fantastic people and opportunities I encountered there.”

Kim double majored in economics and communications with an eye toward a career in mobile technology and entertainment. In his spare time, he organized massive dorm vs. dorm video game tournaments that helped him realize gaming’s potential for building real, meaningful communities.

One of his favorite classes was statistics, taught by Richard McGowan, S.J., associate professor of the practice in finance at the Carroll School of Management, who also served as resident advisor in Kim’s residence hall. For one assignment, Kim and his roommate, Patrick Yin ’98, argued that video games would soon become a multibillion-dollar industry. Rather than simply presenting slide decks loaded with charts and data, Kim and Yin brought in a third friend to play live in the lecture hall during the presentation. “It was an absolute hit,” Kim says with a laugh. “People were literally cheering on a statistical analysis of this industry.”

“I feel like I discovered my voice at Boston College—who I was and what was important to me.”

Bernard Kim ’98

Later, Kim and Yin worked together at both Electronic Arts and Zynga, and they remain close to this day. Kim also talks regularly with Fr. McGowan, along with a host of other friends and faculty members he met at the Heights.

“I have this great community of like-minded friends and confidants from Boston College,” says Kim. “I look to my friends for support and mentorship, and I love to give back to BC as well.”

Even with a busy schedule, Kim regularly makes time for his alma mater, hosting students for the West Coast Tech Trek and visiting campus as a guest lecturer. “I’m so inspired by how smart these students are; they are light years ahead of where I was at BC,” Kim says with a chuckle. “Between 245 Beacon and the investments in science and technology, I am so proud of how our school has evolved. It’s one of many reasons I hope my two teenagers will consider BC when it’s their turn.”

Kim also hopes to build more ties between BC and the West Coast, and he encourages both current students and alumni to invest time in networking, particularly those interested in apps and technology. For him, it all comes back to connection—from his first days playing video games with his sister to his time at the Heights, all of which helped fuel his rise to the upper echelon of his industry.

“Software can connect the world,” says Kim. “I’m at Match Group because our work is centered on getting people together, which I think is the ultimate source of happiness.”

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