Bumble is a location-based social and dating application which facilitates communication between interested users. In heterosexual matches, the app permits only women to start a chat with their male matches, while in same-sex matches either party can message first, though all free users must reply to messages within 24 hours or the match disappears.
The co-founder of Tinder, Whitney Wolfe, founded Bumble. Wolfe created the app after leaving Tinder. Wolfe sued Tinder for sexual discrimination and harassment and settled for just over $1 million in September 2014. Amidst the media attention surrounding the lawsuit, acquaintance and Badoo founder and CEO Andrey Andreev reached out to Wolfe via email, and the two met up. Andreev suggested she get back into the dating space, and together they recruited fellow Tinder departees Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick to launch Bumble. Bumble was launched three months later in December 2014.
The app is headquartered in Austin, Texas and has 70 employees globally. In June 2016, Bumble announced a partnership with Spotify that would allow users to connect their Spotify account to their profile to show their music interests. The company acquired the LGBT dating app Chappy in December 2016 and, as of March 2017, has plans to launch a career networking app, Bumble Bizz. In August 2017, Bumble partnered with the Anti-Defamation League in an effort to remove users who display hate symbols in their profiles. According to Forbes, the company is valued at more than $1 billion.
How it works
Users are required to log in to Bumble via Facebook. Information from the user's Facebook account is used to build a profile with photos and basic information, including the user's college and job. Women must initiate the conversation of their matches or the matches disappear within 24 hours; either person in a same-sex match can reach out.
Features include the ability to favorite conversations, to sort conversations, to send photo messages, and to swipe, which allows users to "like" potential matches by swiping right and to swipe left to continue on their search. Bumble released a "backtrack" feature in 2015 that allows users to undo accidental left swipes by shaking their phones. Three free "backtracks" are provided initially, which are replenished every three hours. Users have the option to immediately receive a new set of three backtracks by sharing Bumble on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, although they are limited to one of these refills per day. There is a 24 hour time frame on matches in which a conversation must be started or else the match disappears.
In March 2016, Bumble released BFF mode as a way for users to find platonic friends. After switching into the mode the app replaces potential dates with people of the users same sex who are also looking for friends. BFF mode uses the same swipe right or left platform as the apps dating mode and requires that a conversation is started within 24 hours of matching with a potential friend. Conversations started with potential friends are color coded as green as opposed to yellow for dates. As the feature was rolled out, Bumble also announced that it would eventually release a dual-profile feature allowing users to curate a profile for dating or friendship. In April 2016, the Bumble app was updated to combat ghosting. As part of the update, if a user is messaged after matching with a potential partner and doesn't respond within 24 hours the match disappears. Before the update, men were allowed unlimited time to respond to a message from women which the company viewed as an uneven playing field. The update was also launched for same-sex matches, with either party allowed to initiate and the other having to respond within 24 hours.
Bumble launched a photo verification tool in September 2016 to ensure that users of the app were the same people in their profile pictures. To be verified, users are asked to submit a selfie of them performing a specific pose, the picture is reviewed by a real person who ensures the user is the person in the profile pictures. Bumble was the first dating app to include photo verification in the U.S.
In August 2016, Bumble announced the release of its paid service, Bumble Boost, which includes three premium features. Bumble Boost costs £3.99/$9.99 USD a month and adds Beeline, a list of users who have liked the user, Rematch, which keeps expired matches in a users queue for 24 additional hours, and Busy Bee, which allows users unlimited 24-hour extensions for matches.
Bumble had a reported 18 million users as of July 2017. Wolfe has stated that within the app's first eight months it saw 5 million unique conversations initiated, all by women. Women make up about 55% of all users, with 60% in the 18-25 year old range and the majority of others in the 25-35 range. Bumble has also reported that its users spend an average of 62 minutes on the app daily. In October 2016, the app launched new photo moderation rules that banned mirror selfies, obscured faces, and photos of users in underwear among others. According to the New York Times, as of March 2017, Bumble had more than 800 million matches and 10 billion swipes per month and is the second most popular Lifestyle app in the App Store.
Bumble has been publicly hailed as a "feminist Tinder." Its founder has confirmed this identity, calling the app "100 percent feminist," although she has attempted to distance the app from Tinder in interviews. Wolfe shared in an interview with Vanity Fair the concept behind the app: "If you look at where we are in the current heteronormative rules surrounding dating, the unwritten rule puts the woman a peg under the man—the man feels the pressure to go first in a conversation, and the woman feels pressure to sit on her hands... If we can take some of the pressure off the man and put some of that encouragement in the woman’s lap, I think we are taking a step in the right direction, especially in terms of really being true to feminism. I think we are the first feminist, or first attempt at a feminist dating app."
In June 2016, Bumble posted an open letter to its blog and blocked a user for sexist behavior after he had an outburst at a female user who asked him what he did for a living.
Bumble has faced a mostly positive reception. However, some reviewers have complained of the "off-putting" time restriction and its lack of LGBT-friendly interface. Bumble also doesn't post system requirements for "supported" OS's leading some users to be unable to find devices that can run it (citation needed).