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At London’s Badoo, Job Perks Include Pole Dancers and Sushi Served on Models

At a moment when sexualized office cultures are a source of major scrutiny, a Tinder rival is counting on that to help its recruiting efforts.

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Photographer: Getty Images

More than 60 million people use Badoo Trading Ltd.’s dating app in places like Latin America and Russia, but back home in London, all anybody knows about it are the parties. Half-naked women dressed as mermaids. Almost-naked models used as sushi platters. Others coated in body paint. Notice a theme? At this spring’s Too Funky Friday party, a George Michael tribute act shook his retro booty onstage while a bikini-clad woman danced on a stripper pole and others circulated in skimpy police and carnival costumes.

These wild soirees are used as a recruiting tool, say headhunters as well as current and former employees. When not popping champagne in stretch Hummers or slurping vodka out of an ice sculpture engraved with the company logo, Badoo’s staff of about 400 makes a Tinder-esque app that’s not particularly well-known on its home turf. The two staffers who manage the parties full time are helping to widen the startup’s appeal. They’re supplemented by contract event planners, including a company that specializes in circus and cabaret shows. Although nights like the annual Christmas celebration can total $385,000, and an event at a conference in Paris ran close to $2million, the typical Badoo party costs the company $25,000 to $45,000, the company says. By the end of 2015, there was one every week.