Last week, TechCrunch broke the news that Whitney Wolfe and a group of other former Tinder employees are launching a new Tinder competitor called Bumble. This week, the app went live in the App Store, giving us our first real look at how the product works.
Spoiler Alert: It’s almost identical to Tinder, complete with the design of the profile pages, settings, and swipe functionality. Within settings, you can see that discovery preferences are just like Tinder, with a slider for age and options to search men, women, or both. Users have no control over distance (with matches being served closest to farthest away. That feature likely has to do with offering as many matches as possible while seeding the app to enough users for distance settings to make a difference.
But there is only one significant thing that separates Bumble from Tinder: On Bumble, girls hold all the power.
Boys are not allowed to send the first message on Bumble. Girls must initiate the conversation with their matches, or else they disappear after 24 hours. The only control the guy has in the situation is the ability to extend one match each day for an extra 24 hours, whispering a Hail Mary prayer that the chosen girl will throw them a bone and send a message.
The power play on the female side of the app makes sense. Wolfe understands better than most that no dating app works without women who are active and engaged on the platform. On Tinder, it’s relatively easy for people to use the app exclusively as a game, swiping left and right on potential matches until their thumbs are sore without any intention of making a connection.
Bumble forces the connection without setting up women to get a ton of unwanted messages from prospective gentlemen.
With same-sex relationships, the app has no rule on who has to message first, whether you’re searching for romance or merely friendship.
Bumble also gives a bit more information than Tinder does, such as the college you graduated from and your current job and company.
The idea to put the ball in the woman’s court is an interesting but not unexpected twist for the app, given that Wolfe has positioned herself as the vulnerable woman who was accosted by unwanted messages from her male colleagues at Tinder.
For those of you who don’t remember, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe started out her career in tech as a marketing employee at Tinder.
She worked under co-founder and CMO Justin Mateen as VP of Marketing, while dating him, and helped grow Tinder’s business among young college students. After a couple of years with the company, however, things went sour between Justin and Whitney, leading to a lawsuit waged against Justin Mateen, Sean Rad, Tinder, and IAC.
Within the lawsuit, Wolfe claimed that Mateen had sexually harassed her through unwanted messages, and that Rad had unfairly stripped her of a co-founder title. The case was settled out of court with no admission of wrongdoing on either side. Wolfe’s settlement reportedly totaled $1 million.
Chris Gulzcynski and Sarah Mick, also ex-Tinder employees who left before the lawsuit, are joining Wolfe at the new company.