Like many single millennials, Ashley and Connor met cute the modern way: They matched on Bumble, the dating app where people swipe through potential partners but only women are allowed to initiate a conversation, and started texting.
But when Ashley asked an innocent question about work, Connor launched into a misogynistic rant in which he called her a “gold-digging whore.” Bumble’s response, a fiery blog post now known as the “Dear Connor” letter, quickly went viral.
Now Bumble is betting that its matchmaking technology can do more than foster romantic or personal connections.
After launching its Bumble BFF vertical a year ago, which pairs users with new friends, Wolfe is repositioning the company to make room for Bumble Bizz, a professional networking vertical debuting in early October where users can look for work, find a business partner, or hire new talent.
Bumble has also recruited “Queen Bees”—existing users who are social media influencers and entrepreneurs—to partner with the app on networking and awareness events.
Wolfe believes that Bumble’s mission of empowerment will be as appealing in the professional realm as it is in the personal.
Wolfe, who enlisted student ambassadors to make Tinder a hit on college campuses around the country, did the same with Bumble.
And now she’s applying a similarly high-energy, wide-net approach to marketing Bumble Bizz.
The challenge, says Bumble’s director of marketing, Chelsea Cain Maclin, is convincing “someone like my mother, who is married and has three kids and now wants to get back into healthcare work, that we have something to offer her.”This fall, Bumble is launching a targeted national ad campaign, geared toward women and men of varying ages, that will promote the idea that just one connection can transform your professional life.
“Feminism wasn’t really at the top of my vocabulary,” says Wolfe.
“I think what’s been interesting for me—let me say this delicately—when I’ve been surrounded by men who don’t believe women are equal, I didn’t think women were equal, including myself.”During a coffee break at Bumble’s office, more than a dozen members of the staff, who are as loose and casual with one another as longtime friends, crowd around a laptop perched on the kitchen counter. It features the company’s director of college marketing jumping out of a plane shortly after she started chatting with a match on Bumble (the ad’s closing statement: #taketheleap).
Giving users more to swipe about than merely romance fits nicely with Bumble’s feminist founding mission.
But this approach also taps into a critical cultural zeitgeist as women push back against the subtle and overt harassment they face in business.
Flanked by a handful of the 30 employees (mostly women) who work out of the company’s Austin office, she explains that she founded Bumble in 2014 “in response to our dating issues, our issues with men, our issues with gender dynamics.” At the time, Wolfe had been reeling from her dramatic exit from the dating app Tinder, where she served as VP of marketing.