Bumble, the popular dating app founded and led by CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, is eyeing an IPO. The company anticipates a valuation between $6 to $8 billion in 2021. The company will become the latest technology startup seeking to enter the IPO frenzy in the second half of 2020. It joins a host of other companies such as DoorDash, Airbnb and Snowflake in a rush to public markets.
Founder’s Experiences Reflected in Bumble
Based in Austin, Texas, Bumble brands itself as empowering women by letting them make the first move. Wolfe Herd’s personal experiences have played a key role in inspiring some of Bumble’s most distinct features. Prior to founding Bumble, Wolfe Herd worked as one of the founding members of Tinder. However, a major fallout caused her to depart two years later. She filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against the company. The experience also motivated her to create her own dating app. Her goal was to make the online dating environment more hospitable for women.
In 2014, Wolfe Herd launched Bumble. Initially, she conceptualized her startup as a social networking platform for women. But soon enough, she shifted her idea to a female-focused dating app. She received critical support early on from Andrey Andreev, a Russian billionaire technology entrepreneur. Andreev made a majority stake investment in her company.
Whitney Wolfe Herd. Image Credit BAYSTREETBULL
A Feminist Tinder
The app quickly took off, with users attracted to the unique design and features. “I know guys get sick of making the first move all the time,” Wolfe Herd commented. “Why does a girl feel like she should sit and wait around? Why is there this standard that, as a woman, you can get your dream job but you can’t talk to a guy first? Let’s make dating feel more modern.”
Wolfe Herd has kept the female-centered mission intact as the company has expanded. As the 31-year-old CEO of a multibillion-dollar company, Wolfe Herd finds herself in a rare league. She surrounds herself with a largely female leadership team and her dating app has been considered a “feminist Tinder.” The app is geared toward users looking for serious relationships, as opposed to casual hookups.
Bumble Includes BFF and Bizz
The company has expanded its services beyond dating to launch Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz. These services focus on personal and professional social networking for women. Bumble’s parent company MagicLab was sold to Blackstone in November 2019, putting its valuation at $3 billion. Following Blackstone’s majority stake acquisition, Wolfe Herd became CEO of MagicLab, whose portfolio of other brands include Badoo, Chappy and Lumen. Andreev originally founded MagicLab in 2006.
The Bumble brand is easily recognizable with its distinct bright yellow color, well-positioned billboards, and catchy advertising slogans. In recent months, Bumble has debuted ads on city benches and billboards with pandemic-themed slogans such as, “You can tell the grandkids you met when kissing was illegal.”
A Commitment to Reducing Online Harassment
Bumble is also distinguishable by its commitment to reducing online harassment and unsolicited nude pictures. When Wolfe Herd filed a sexual harassment lawsuit following her departure from Tinder, she faced a flood of online backlash. This experience inspired her focus on reducing digital harassment, particularly of women. The fact that women have to message first is central to letting women set the tone of the conversation.
Dating apps including Bumble have capitalized on the social isolation of the pandemic to capture additional users. With more people stuck at home, the dating app market has benefited. Observers estimate the global online dating market will be worth $9.2 billion by 2025. The app recently added enhanced video dating features to facilitate virtual interactions to minimize in-person interactions due to coronavirus concerns.
100,000 New Users Per Day
Today, Bumble has over 95 million users in 150 countries. Furthermore, the app has around 100,000 new users per day and 23 million matches made each week. Despite Bumble’s large userbase and unique characteristics, it faces a number of dating app competitors. The Match Group, which owns Tinder and OkCupid, has a $30 billion market capitalization. Facebook entered the dating app scene earlier this year with Facebook Dating, although it has not gained significant traction. Other prominent competitors include Hinge, The League and Coffee Meets Bagel.
Bumble a Part of Austin Tech Hub
Austin, Texas, where Bumble is headquartered, has rapidly grown into a major U.S. tech hub since Bumble’s founding in 2014. The mix of entrepreneurial-minded professionals, low cost of living, and a number of startups on the upward trajectory has attracted tech talent to this innovative Texas city. Elon Musk recently announced that Tesla will build its next factory in Austin. Musk’s neurotechnology startup Neuralink is hiring in Austin.
Whenever Bumble makes its splash to public markets in early 2021, it is likely to make a strong market debut. Tech stocks have been among the best stock market performers in the pandemic economy. Bumble will be able to use the money raised from the stock market to invest in enhancing the current user experience and expanding the platform’s reach.