Bumble dating app is enjoying quite the spotlight after its CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd recently became the youngest self-made woman billionaire in the world. Although the app has been around since 2014, Herd took the company public in the US last week where its shares soared over 76 percent in its trading debut to $76 (approx Rs 5,500), valuing the 31-year-old at $1.5 billion who owns 11.6 percent stake. The company's own market value soared more than $13bn after listing shares. But apart from the recent success, Bumble has been well-known in the dating app segment for the last few years and also enjoys huge popularity among customers in India. The app has been described as a "feminist dating" platform by Herd, as it empowers women to take control over their 'matches' and conversations. It essentially pursues women to make the first move, among other controls.
Notably, Herd is the youngest female CEO to take a company public in the US. The 31-year-old Bumble executive also did this with her own baby in her arms, which is not only a rare sight in the corporate world but sends out a powerful message about women in leadership roles – and about parents in the workplace – previously advocated by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden who made history in 2018 by becoming the first world leader to attend the United Nations general assembly meeting with her baby in tow.
Hours after going public last week, Bumble that once received investment from Indian actor Priyanka Chopra, lauded its achievement and announced, "Today is what happens when women make the first move." Herd in an interview with Fortune also indicated that her company's approach towards safety and its user-friendly features lured investors during the trade last week as Bumble's IPO was priced well above the initial range of $43 per share.
What makes Bumble distinct from its competitors
Bumble uses the same swipe-based matching system as other dating apps such as its biggest competitor Tinder, but since launch, it has required women to send the first message. The platform was among the first to provide options such as in-app voice and video calling that many rival apps are now introducing amid the COVID-19 pandemic to promote safe online dating. Additionally, Bumble also comes with a photo verification feature to prevent catfishing and further provides women with the option to hide their name to limit online stalking. The online dating app introduced three badges that include "virtual," "socially-distanced," and "socially-distanced with masks" in October 2018 to help people communicate better during the pandemic. Bumble is also a platform for platonic friendships and professional communication under the in-app segments Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz, respectively. It has a web version as well that allows users to swipe and chat with matches on desktop.
These pre-existing features helped the company to witness strong user growth over the past calendar year. Bumble reported having 42 million monthly active users at the end of September, up 22 percent from the year prior. Roughly 2.4 million were paying members of its dating service, Business Insider reported.
Bumble competing against the giants like Match Group
Notably, Herd is a co-founder of rival app Tinder, which she later sued, alleging that her co-founders subjected her to gender discrimination. Tinder parent Match Group, which denied the allegations, paid about $1 million to settle the dispute, as per Reuters. Match Group even tried to buy Herd’s company in 2017 for $450 million.
Following her departure, Herd founded Bumble in 2014, a "safe" online dating platform with women taking control of the wheels. It also influences her hiring: 82 percent of the employees are female, along with almost all of the executive leadership.
According to a report, Herd had also initiated and successfully lobbied for a Texas bill that makes sending unwanted nude images illegal in Texas. Bumble in 2019 rolled out an AI-powered filter that aims to remove lewd photos before users see them. However, the app faced heat in November 2020 when a report claimed that an API-related bug allegedly posed a risk of exposing its entire user's basic data and even bypass premium features. Bumble responded saying that the security-related issue was resolved and there was no user data compromised. The online dating company still faces its biggest challenges from Match Group that has a revenue of over $1 billion.