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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.
Following an ugly breakup with cofounder Justin Mateen, Wolfe brought a sexual harassment suit against her former colleagues, accusing them of discrimination and stripping her of her cofounder title—claims Tinder called unfounded.
“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).
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.
“I read what people were saying about me, and I was sure I was done,” she says.
“I felt like a washed-up rag, the dirtiest, grossest person in the world.” But shortly after her move, she got a call from Andrey Andreev, the founder and CEO of social networking site Badoo, who wanted to know her plans.
The concept of Bizz is a relatively easy sell for current users: Set up a discrete profile for networking, all while continuing under the principle that anyone can match, but women alone can initiate contact.
Unlike many other professional and social networks, which exist to connect you to people you know, Bizz’s mission is to introduce you to new contacts, with added protections like verified profiles.