What appeared to the untrained eye to be an innocent gathering in Dolores this past weekend was, in fact, anything but. Bubbles floating aimlessly over the park were instead part of a promotional event and accidental performance art piece organized by Happn, "the city's newest dating app," one of the hyperlocal "missed connections" variety.
To celebrate four million users and recruit new ones, the company billed their free party as "a giant bubble battle... to get out of your 'dating bubble.'" The theme was "loosely based on the Dr. Seuss classic The Butter Battle Book." That doesn't sound like the closest reading of Seuss' war allegory, nor does it display a powerful grasp of irony. The bubbles, it need not be pointed out, are a not-so-subtle nod to Happn's $8 million in venture capital. More broadly, they serve as an inadvertent symbol for the ephemeral, beautiful, and overvalued tech industry.
But that wasn't lost on MarketWatch, a financial news subsidiary of the Dow Jones. Dolores, MarketWatch explains, is "well known as a hangout for hipsters, drug dealers, and young startup workers in San Francisco." Happn has even played with the meaning and concept of Dolores in its advertising. In the corporate-sponsored words of mayoral candidate Broke-Ass Stuart "Happn lets you connect with that mysterious hottie from Dolores Park."
As a popular gathering place, Dolores is "where many city denizens may choose to meet face-to-face for the first time," writes MarketWatch. That would be "after connecting on one of the seemingly infinite dating apps founded in San Francisco, including Coffee Meets Bagel, Stitch, Mixter, Zoosk, and LikeIt." Typically mobbed on weekends, the park doubles as a symbol for the crowded dating app space still dominated by Tinder, a company which analysts say might reach a valuation of $1.1 billion (!) by year's end.
Backing up, even if you've never heard of San Francisco, MarketWatch has you covered. It's a magical place "where the average annual wage for high-tech workers is $156,518 in 2013." [Ed. Note: current year is 2015] And, as MarketWatch invokes its knowledge, with that salary techies can afford their fair share of "'Dolores Park Brownie Guy' and the 'Truffle Man,' both weed chocolatiers with Yelp pages."
Turning the screw one last time, attendees of the Happn happening were encouraged to bring "bubble toys, bubble generators... and your bubbly self." Happn, though it could have paid for hundreds of bubble wands with its VC monies, apparently only covered the soapy water.