Feminist dating app Bumble and online dating behemoth Match Group are locked in a bitter war with each other. The two dating applications have officially declared their relationship “complicated,” and it looks as though the war will be a long and bloody one. Each company has filed a lawsuit against the other citing various reasons, but most notably copyright infringement, stolen confidential information, and fraudulent behavior.
To make matters even more complicated is the intricate history Bumble has with Tinder, a subsidiary of Match Group. Bumble’s founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe-Herd is the former co-founder and vice president of marketing for Tinder.
She left the company in 2014 after filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former boss and boyfriend, Justin Mateen. The suit was settled out of court for an estimated $1 million, but that doesn’t mean that Whitney Wolfe-Herd’s struggles were over just yet.
After the kerfuffle with Tinder, Wolfe founded Bumble, a women-centric dating app, where ladies were encouraged to “Make the first move.” Wolfe’s inspiration was empowering women, giving them a safe space to approach the opposite sex with confidence and ease. “Women should be able to do that without shame, guilt or blame,” Wolfe later stated to Biz Journals.
As it turns out, the online dating world needed exactly that. Bumble’s growth has been tremendous over the last few years, with more than 30 million users by 2018. “We took great strides in 2016 towards changing the stereotypical gender dynamics in dating. Women made the first move more than 200 million times on Bumble,” the company would later announce.
Whitney Wolfe-Herd has fundamentally changed the online dating world, empowered women, and seemingly made the process of finding love less stressful and more delightful. With such a successful launch, it was only a matter of time before the Salt Lake City native would find her own fairytale ending.
In September 2017, the mogul would marry longtime boyfriend and Texas oil heir, Michael Herd in a lavish ceremony in Positano, Italy.
Soon other suitors would be knocking on Wolfe-Herd’s door. Namely, Match Group the online dating behemoth which owns sites like Match.com, PlentyofFish, OkCupid, and of course Tinder.
Match Group began courting Bumble in the summer of 2017 with an offer to buy the dating service and fold it into its other online dating subsidiaries. When Match Group made an offer of $450 million dollars, Wolfe-Herd turned the offer down, stating the that Match Group had “lowballed,” her company’s worth.
Indeed this may have been the case, considering that Bumble at the time had obtained a valuation of nearly $1 billion. This is when things took a turn for the worst. In early March of this year, Match Group filed a lawsuit in Texas stating that Bumble violated two of its copyright patents, and may have stolen “confidential information related to proposed Tinder features.”
Match Group claims that former Tinder employees, turned Bumble executives, Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick stole secret information from Tinder, including information about the apps design patent, the famous swipe-to-connect feature.
Not to be intimidated or backed into a corner, Bumble countersued later in the month, arguing that Match Group interfered with its business operations through fraudulent means. Bumble was seeking $400 million in damages.
Bumble claims that Match Group’s lawsuit is an attempt to hurt Bumble’s chances of selling equity investment or the company altogether. In the complaint, Bumble stated, “Unwilling to pay fair value for Bumble, Match tried to poison Bumble in the investment market by filing bogus intellectual property claims to wrongfully disparage the Bumble platform.”
Additionally, Whitney Wolfe and company wrote an extensive reply to the Match Groups lawsuit on its website, stating “We swipe left on you. We swipe left on your multiple attempts to buy us, copy us, and, now, to intimidate us. We’ll never be yours. No matter the price tag, we’ll never compromise our values.”
A bold and strong statement from a company comprised mostly of women, and headed by one of the most empowering women in today’s era. Whitney Wolfe-Herd continues to inspire despite the challenges facing her.
In fact, she’s looking toward the future, further developing Bumble BFF, a platonic offshoot of Bumble that focuses on connections between women. And Bumble Bizz which is looking to give LinkedIn a run for its money.
The valuation of Bumble continues to increase and does the number of users. Wolfe-Herd has a lot to be proud of, the lawsuits are only a step in the right direction not only for her but women everywhere who refuse to be bullied especially in the era of #MeToo.
Wolfe-Herd continues to change the conversation about women and women in business and her David vs. Goliath struggle with Match Group will show that women-led businesses can challenge the male-dominated world of business and win. Not bad for an International Studies major from Southern Methodist University. Whitney Wolfe-Herd is an inspiration to every woman.