Bumble and its Potential IPO, India Launch, and Becoming a Content Creator

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Bumble has a lot on its plate these days, including a potential IPO, expanding its service to India, and becoming a content creator as well as building a “kind social network.”

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd about the female-friendly dating app, which has recently styled itself as a social media platform that promotes safety and helping women build relationships.

Bumble has been in the news lately because it’s rumored to be eyeing an IPO before the end of the year, with a $1.5 billion valuation. This could mean big news for the app, which competes with behemoths Tinder and more recently Facebook. Still, Bumble has managed to grow to 40 million users, up from 12.5 million in February 2017, which is significant growth compared to its competitors.

The company recently launched in India, which the WSJ suggested was a challenge for a female-friendly dating app in a traditionally patriarchal culture. Herd said the company’s strategy is to build relationships with young influencer's, in much the same way Tinder originally marketed to college students to build its user base. By appealing to younger women in specific locations like colleges, who have a voice in the culture to be brand ambassadors, it will create awareness and encourage people to try the app.

Herd points out that you can disable the dating feature from the app and use it for networking instead, bypassing the dating dilemma altogether. So instead of marketing Bumble solely as a dating app, they are rolling it out as an overall social network for women. It’s important to note that most dating apps haven’t made headway in India because many women don’t feel comfortable posting their profiles. Bumble is also offering safety features that ensure women in India will feel secure using the app.

Herd was also asked about Bumble’s plan to become a content creator, namely for advertising. The company has tested the waters by creating videos to promote Bumble Biz, showing an employee going to work and taking viewers through her day. Bumble plans to be strategic about offering original media content (such as what viewers might see on Netflix) during so-called “primetime” – between five and eight in the evening, when the most users are on the app, to help build community in a different way.

When asked about the company trying to build a “kind social network,” WSJ asked if Herd considered Facebook or Twitter to be “kind” networks. She responded by pointing out that these platforms were not built with kindness in mind, but with the goal of attracting as many users as possible without thinking of the consequences. This led to a place where people hide behind fake profiles or otherwise behave badly on social media platforms, with companies feeling ill-equipped to handle the abuse.

“We literally built our product from the ground up with kindness in mind,” Herd said.