Michael Dell’s son to launch dating app with UT students

Josh Willis

The name Dell may be synonymous with computers, but a younger Dell has his eyes set on online dating. 

Zach Dell, son of Dell Inc. founder Michael Dell, will launch a new dating app called “Thread” to connect college students. The official release party will be Sept. 20 at the Fiji house, with admission granted to anyone who has downloaded the app.

Sebastian Bruce, a computer science and economics senior and founder of StartATX, a UT organization that promotes entrepreneurship, spoke to Dell about creating the app. 

“He raised a little bit over a half a million and with that was able to find really good developers, designers and a new co-founder, who went to Wharton,” Bruce said. 

“You can date within your college or university, so it’s very close knit, rather than Tinder, where you just meet some random person,” Bruce said. “You have to have a ‘.edu’ email in order to join.”

Dell, who is a senior at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, said he connected with investors in Austin who have contributed more than $600,000 in funding. 

Dell said his first investor was Robbie Yeager, a friend of both Dell and Bruce. Yeager invested $100,000 in the project in 2013, making him the largest contributor.

“At first I wasn’t so sure, but, when I talked to [Dell], I could see how passionate he was about the project,” Yeager said. 

With its launch, Thread will be joining a host of other apps that foster dating and interactions among specified groups of people. Dell said an important difference between Thread and other apps is the exclusivity that requires all users to be college students.

“Thread is 100 percent college exclusive,” Dell said. “You have a filtering mechanism to your college; this increases the safety of using the app.”

In narrowing down the pool of community members who access the app, Dell said he intends to increase the degree of safety for users. 

“With Thread, there are many safety mechanisms — a lot to protect women,” Dell said.

According to Dell, he became interested in contributing to the online dating industry when he realized that use by younger generations was increasing. 

“A lot of people thought people who are younger were interested in online dating, but what I saw was that it turned into a creepy industry,” Dell said. “No company was going out of their way to create a safe environment, especially for women.”

Dell said he could see several opportunities for improving existing online dating options. Currently, the app is available exclusively for use at UT, but Dell said in the future, he intends to expand the service to other colleges and universities.