Bumble, Match and Facebook compete to become the one
Dating apps have become big business. Now, three massive companies are vying for a spot at the top: Bumble, the Match Group and Facebook.
Bumble – a company built by women, for women
When Bumble floated on the Nasdaq in February 2020, 31-year-old Whitney Wolfe Herd became the youngest female CEO and founder to take a US company public. The company began trading just before Valentine’s day and well above its initial public offering (IPO) price, surging to a value of over $13bn. And it did so by turning the dating industry on its head.
Men traditionally make the first move when it comes to romance, but in both relationships and business, Bumble sees things differently. Bumble’s differentiating factor is that its app is designed to enable women to make the first move in online courtship.
A company built by women and for women unsurprisingly has “women at the centre”, as the IPO filing states. This female-centric model is good for business, a fact already known to Wolfe Herd.
“I think the global investment community can really get behind the potential of building a global women’s brand that has an impact on the way we connect and how we treat each other both on and offline,” she told the Financial Times.
There is a clear message in that statement, and it relates to Wolfe Herd’s previous position at Bumble’s rival Tinder. Even given the success of dating sites, not all relationships last or are successful, including working relationships, as Wolfe Herd has found.
Wolfe Herd was a co-founder of rival app Tinder, but left in 2014. She later sued the other Tinder co-founders for sexual harassment. The relationship deteriorated further as Tinder’s parent company, the Match Group, sued Bumble in 2018, alleging patent and trademark infringement. Additional lawsuits followed before both parties agreed to settle. The lawsuits highlight the vibrancy and competition in the growing online dating market.
The Match Group owns and operates the largest global portfolio of online dating services, including Tinder, Match.com, OKCupid and Hinge. In February 2020 Match also announced plans to buy the Korean video chat company Hyperconnect for $1.7bn in order to expand its presence in Asia.
Facebook casts its shadow
Though Facebook Dating has only launched in the US and does not yet have the geographical or business reach of established matchmakers such as Bumble and Match, the size of the potential user Facebook base means that it has a reasonable chance of dating success.
However, its ever-expanding ecosystem is facing regulatory scrutiny and data privacy concerns may arise, which could adversely impact Facebook’s dating profile. Ultimately, data and dating may not be a match made in heaven.
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