For the second time this month, Bumble is taking a strong, public stance on an issue. Open The New York Times or Dallas Morning News today, and you'll find a full-page ad from the company with the heading: "Bumble Swipes Left On Match Group/Tinder Allegations."
The ad, written in the form of a letter, addresses a patent infringement lawsuit filed on Friday, March 16, by Match Group, the parent company of Tinder, Match, PlentyOfFish, and OkCupid. The lawsuit, Match Group v Bumble, claims that Bumble "sought to mimic Tinder's functionality and general look-and-feel."
"We are committed to protecting the intellectual property and proprietary data that defines our business," Match Group said in a statement. "Accordingly, we are prepared when necessary to enforce our patents and other intellectual property rights against any operator in the dating space who infringes upon those rights."
But early media coverage has suggested there may be an alternative motive at the heart of the lawsuit. In August 2017, Forbes reported that Bumble had turned down a $450 million buyout offer from Match Group. Today's Bumble ad implicates Match Group's desire to purchase the company as the primary reason for the lawsuit: "We swipe left on you. We swipe left on your multiple attempts to buy us, copy us, and now, to intimidate us. We'll never be yours. No matter the price tag, we'll never compromise our values."
"This was not our only option and we’re very excited about the other prospects at hand."
Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble Founder and CEO
At a time when companies are being encouraged to take public stances about their values, Bumble stands out one that has been doing just that from the beginning. This makes it an attractive acquisition — and Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble, hints that Bumble is considering other offers.
"We’re very excited about other opportunities," Wolfe Herd told Refinery29 in advance of today's ad. "We are in talks with several other, very interesting prospects for a potential change of control. I would stay on and take this to the next level whatever that looks like, potentially an IPO, whatever the best future is for us. This was not our only option and we’re very excited about the other prospects at hand."
Wolfe Herd was a Tinder co-founder. She filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company in June 2014, which was settled for a reported $1 million later that year. Some of the language used in today's ad echoes Bumble's letters to disrespectful, misogynistic users on the app (2016's "Open Letter To Connor" set a new standard in the dating app world). The company, which often speaks of the importance of protecting and standing up for its users, reiterates that intention.
"I want our users to know that Bumble will always stand up for them," Wolfe Herd told Refinery29. "We will always place value and positivity and equality and respect above anything, whether that be a business matter or a product matter or a cultural matter. Values come above bottom line."
Bumble, which has expanded beyond its core dating service to offer friend-making and networking components, has been a strong advocate for women since it was founded in December 2014 with the tagline "make the first move." A few weeks ago, the company took a more political stance when it decided to ban photos of users with guns.