In wake of the #MeToo Movement, Bumble App proves it has always been focused on girl power

With the rise of the #MeToo Movement, many companies in the United States have taken action to make female employees feel safe in the workplace and some have even set up campaigns that focus on women empowerment. But for the popular dating app Bumble, making women feel confident and protected has been its initiative since day one.

In 2014, Bumble was founded by current CEO Whitney Wolfe, 28, as a way to help break gender norms in dating. Despite the progressive time period, Wolfe noticed that many women still felt that they needed to wait for men to ask them out or start up a conversation. She wanted to shake up traditional dating norms, so she created Bumble and made it their initiative to give women the first move.

As opposed to other popular dating apps like OkCupid and Tinder, Bumble only allows women to send the first message and start the conversation. It’s an effort to give women more confidence when it comes to dating or engaging in any conversation with men, while also making sure that they feel safe while online dating. The concept certainly allows the app to stand out from others, allowing it to amass over 22 million users in the past four years and make $100 million in sales in 2017, a number that’s expected to double by the end of this year.

According to Julia McGillicuddy, a regional representative for Bumble, “What makes us [Bumble] different from our competitors is that the woman makes the first move. Females speak first on our app throughout any of our platforms, and because of that we have the lowest rate of sexual harassment across the board for any dating app.”

Since its launch, the app has developed into three different platforms: Bumble, Bumble BFF, and Bumble Bizz. Bumble is for traditional online dating, “BFF” is for making friendships and connections with those in your area, and “Bizz” is for networking with companies and applying for jobs near you that are very female driven.

So while Bumble is trying to alter traditional dating norms amongst men and women, it’s also trying to create an outlet for girls to form friendships and to inspire more women to enter into the workforce and go after their dream jobs. After all, some of the company’s most popular mottos are, “Good People Are All Around You” and “Be the Ceo Your Parents Always Wanted You to Marry”.

Why is the app so focused on creating more and more opportunities for women? It could have something to do with CEO Witney Wolfe’s past.

Before Wolfe started Bumble, she was a co-founder and Vice President of marketing for Tinder, Bumble’s rival dating app. During her time at Tinder, Wolfe dated her boss Justin Mateen, who is the current co-founder and chief-marketing officer of the app.

It was at Tinder that Wolfe began her work to help women make the first move in dating, as she was frequently going to college campuses to network and to encourage young women to download the app. Little did she know that she would soon be fired from the company and filing a lawsuit for sexual harassment against her former boyfriend and colleague.

Wolfe and Mateen’s relationship did not last long. After the breakup, Mateen became aggressive towards Wolfe, calling her names in the workplace and threatening to fire her because having a woman in authority made the company look “like a joke”. Wolfe alleges in her lawsuit that she informed her chief executive Sean Rad about the harassment, but he did not take it seriously and eventually fired her. In response, Wolfe sued. The lawsuit was settled later that year in 2014, and as a result Mateen was instantly suspended from the company, and Sean Rad resigned in 2016.

Wanting to start fresh and finally be able to focus her attention on empowering women, Wolfe founded Bumble and began creating the female-centric company. According to Forbes, the app launched in December of 2014 and accumulated over 100,000 downloads in its first month. Giving women the power to start the conversation was a hit, and it made the app stand out from its competitors, including Tinder.

“This turning the tables and giving women the power to pursue what they want seems really interestingly consistent with greater power for women.” said Amy Aronson, Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Fordham University.

Aronson believes that the reason the app has gained so much attention and grown in membership is due to the fact that it challenges dating stigmas.

“We still have a lot of kind of old fashioned assumptions about male sexuality and female sexuality. A man that makes a move on a woman is a stud, and a woman who makes a move on a man is a slut. This app seems to interestingly offer an opportunity to turn that idea on its head.” Aronson said.

Over the past four years, Bumble has managed to attract an impressive crowd, making it a strong competitor with the dating app Tinder. However, the two companies have found themselves in the midst of another legal battle recently. It all began when Barry Diller, the owner of Tinder, tried to buy Bumble for $450 million back in 2017. When Bumble declined the offer, a change to Tinder’s app came along not too far down the road. Now, Tinder allowed women the option of only interacting with men that they desired to, which began to ignite even more of a fire between the two apps. Tinder’s parent company Match Group then sued Bumble for alleged copyright infringement, and then Bumble responded with a lawsuit of their own in March of 2018, demanding $400 million in damages due to Tinder’s intended sabotage of Bumble’s reputation.

Wolfe claims that these allegations from Match Group were made in response to jealousy over Bumble’s success, and it’s certainly true that Tinder is getting a run for their money from Bumble users and Wolfe herself, as her reputation continues to soar.

“With Tinder there is a connotation of a hook-up culture there,” said Mickey Esposito, a 20 year-old college student from New York City, who has been using Bumble for over a year now.

Esposito is a user of both Bumble and Tinder, but she says that she prefers Bumble when it comes to actually starting relationships, as Tinder has become infamous for matching individuals for casual hook-ups.

Being a college student on the hunt for internships in a big metropolitan area, Esposito also says that one of the things that’s attracted her to use Bumble more frequently has been the app’s launch of Bumble Bizz, or the millennial LinkedIn as users call it.

“It lets the employers see who you are — not just visually and physically who you are. It is kind of a different approach from other online websites like Indeed or sterile companies like LinkedIn and other job board sites.” said Esposito.

The feature has become so popular that it’s now being used by television personality Kris Jenner as a way to find her personal assistant.

With its membership rising, Bumble is continuing to make a name for itself as a premier dating app for young people, especially young women. By creating a platform where it’s normal for women to initiate a conversation with a man and where young girls can network with each other and with female-led companies, Bumble has certainly managed to redefine the boundaries of dating apps.