In 2014, Whitney Wolfe Herd left Tinder as their vice president of marketing. After this she filed for sexual harassment against the company. This led to her being ostracized from the tech community and being repeatedly threatened on the internet. She took this experience and built the fastest growing dating platform in America.
In the December of 2014, she launched Bumble, a dating app with a very unique selling point, any conversation after a match has to be initiated by the woman. It gives women 24 hours after a match to message someone before the match “expires.” A part of the reason for this practice of allowing women to initiate the conversation was the prevalence of women getting unsolicited explicit messages and images on dating application. Bumble built its platform by concentrating on women and their experiences of internet dating. They created value by allowing women to have more agency over their online dating experience. They also marketed themselves directly to their audience. Using her background in marketing, Wolfe Herd positioned the platform as a champion for women. An example of this was A letter called “An open letter to Connor” in which they publicly called out a male user who was abusive to a female user. They held events around the world, inviting local influencers and making sure their mission got out there. This building of brand strength and the network effect that rose out of women coming to bumble and this in turn attracting male users is another way they created value.
Unlike other apps in this space, they still retained the familiarity and ease of the swipe-based user interface which was so successful at Tinder. They also get feedback from their community and use the data they have to implement new features. This can be seen clearly in the implementation of “Bumble Bizz” and “Bumble BFF.” When they noticed that there were people on their dating app that were interested in platonic relationships, they created Bumble BFF as another feature in the app. Anyone who was looking for friendships could move their search here and only see people interested in the same. Similarly, they created Bumble Bizz when they noticed that people were using the platform to expand their networks. They added the prompts which allowed users to post answers to quirky questions. This created room for conversations and generally let users capture their personalities more vividly. They added filters that let users target their searches better than the standard age and distance. This improved the user experience as it enabled users to find exactly what they are looking for quicker.
Rather than advertising, as most of its competitors have done, Bumble captures value using a freemium model where it offers 2 enhancements on top of the free user experience: Boost and Premium. Boost users extend the times for their matches, unlimited swipes every day, backtrack(go back on their last swipe), one spotlight(more visibility) and 5 SuperSwipes(higher level of confidence in the match. Premium includes all the features of Boost plus the ability to use an unlimited number of advanced filters as compared to the usual two, ability to rematch with expired matches and the ability to see who has liked your profile already.
Bumble has had no major troubles scaling as their clear message draws female users and network effects have been helping them gather users. Since they are an app based platform, they can scale rapidly but since they are committed to the values they need content moderators around the world for different languages as shown by their job postings. Their response to customer needs and constant innovation and activism have attracted users. The introduction of their lifestyle magazine Bumble Mag has help them get more ingrained in their user’s lives and increase stickiness. They also post bumble success stories on their website and engage very actively with their community. This engagement with their community increases their sustainability as their users are invested in them.
They had their IPO in February 2021, setting their valuation at $13 billion. As a company using technological innovation to make women feel safer on the internet, Bumble looks like it has a bright future. Their commitment to their mission and their responsiveness to their community along with their CEO are going to long term factors in their growth.