Bumble is a dating app that millions more will know about after Sunday thanks to a Super Bowl LIII commercial featuring tennis legend Serena Williams. The unique app only allows women to make the first contact in heterosexual matches.
The app was founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd, the co-founder of Tinder, after she left Tinder. Herd sued Tinder for sexual discrimination and harassment, and reached a $1 million settlement in September 2014. Badoo founder Andrey Andreev reached out to her after the settlement was reported and suggested creating a new dating app.
Bumble launched in December 2014 and is based in Austin, Texas. In December 2017, Forbes called it America's fastest-growing dating app and estimated its value at $1 billion. Herd, 29, was even featured on the cover of the magazine.
When the app launched, users were originally required to sign in using their Facebook accounts, but the company broke from Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal last year. Today, users can sign up with only their phone number, although you can still log-in using Facebook to carry over information.
Recently, Bumble has been making an effort to get out of the "dating app" box. The company has launched other networking tools like Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF to help users find new business partners or friends.
"As many people know, Bumble launched as a dating app, but we've grown to become so much more," Andee Olson, Bumble's director of partnerships, told BizBash. We are now one app with three modes (Bumble Date, Bumble BFF, and Bumble Bizz), which are united by a mission to empower women, end misogyny, and hold people accountable for their actions online. Naturally, as our business has grown, our strategy has grown from focusing on providing entertaining dating-related events for existing and potential Bumble matches to including events and entertainment that are appealing to users who are actively looking for meaningful connections as a whole — whether that's in love, friendship, or business."
Bumble now has an estimated 40 million users worldwide. Although it is free to use, the app launched new features in August 2016 that users have to pay for. Bumble Boost, which costs $9.99 a month, includes a feature to let you keep expired matches for an extra 24 hours. For free users, matches expire in 24 hours if you do not start a conversation.
Last week, Bumble announced that Williams will be starring in a Super Bowl commercial for the app. Titled "The Ball Is In Her Court," the ad is part of an effort to create more Super Bowl commercials targeted to women.
"I think we're taught as women sometimes that it's OK to sit back and it's OK to let someone come to you and it's OK, you'll get your opportunity because people will open the door and people will come to you," Williams said in an interview with CBS News. "But why not just grab it and take it and be the first and ask for it or go for our first move."
She added, "We have to let them know we're just as good — we work just as hard. I know I've been working since I was 3 years old picking up tennis rackets so I deserve the same treatment as everyone else."
Photo credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images