Bumble’s Big Changes: What It Means for the Women-First Brand

Happy Young Asian Woman Using Phone - Bumble Logo

As the allure of dating apps fades, an increasing number of Americans are sharing negative experiences with them. Disenchanted by the prevalence of bots, the cost of subscriptions, and the low return on their efforts, members of Gen Z are abandoning these platforms in search of spontaneous, real-life romantic encounters.

But not every dating app is quietly taking this shift lying down—yesterday, following months of internal upheaval and stock market struggles, Bumble launched a revamped version in an attempt to recapture the affection of its users. This update is a notable departure from the platform’s long-standing rule requiring that women have to start conversations—men can now make the first move.

The company has introduced a new feature named “Opening Moves,” which lets women add a question to their profiles, such as “What is your dream vacay?” Men who match with them can answer this prompt. In matches involving nonbinary individuals and same-gender pairings, both parties can use these prompts.

This change represents a significant departure for Bumble. Previously, if a man matched with a woman, he had to wait for her to reach out first. If she didn’t start a conversation within 24 hours, the match would disappear.

Why Is Bumble Changing Gears Now?

Whitney Wolfe Herd launched Bumble in 2014, inspired by her personal experiences. She aimed to empower women by giving them more control. “I went through several difficult relationships where I felt dominated by a man—being told what not to wear, who I couldn’t associate with, or when I needed to be home,” she explained.

However, as time passed, feedback from women indicated that initiating conversations was “demanding” or “a burden.” This led Ms. Wolfe Herd to consider ways to alleviate this pressure. She pointed to Opening Moves as a solution that arose from this reflection, offering women a way to retain control without the pressure of always having to start the conversation.

The update comes during a tumultuous time for the company. In November, Ms. Wolfe Herd stepped down from her role as chief executive. Lidiane Jones, formerly the chief executive at Slack, assumed leadership in January. A month later, Bumble revealed plans to eliminate 350 jobs, roughly one-third of its workforce.

Since its public debut in 2021, Bumble’s stock price has plummeted by 86 percent. This downturn is not unique to Bumble alone; Match Group has also seen a similar decline in its stock value during the same period.

Jones views the Bumble redesign as an opportunity to help the platform rise to the occasion.

“We’re seeing a greater need for authentic human connections,” Jones said to CNN in an interview before the relaunch. “I don’t anticipate that the number of people using online dating is going to go down, quite the opposite, but there is a higher bar … So we’re taking it as a great call to action to center ourselves on our mission.”

Jones believes the new “Opening Moves” feature reflects Bumble’s commitment to its foundational goal of empowering women while also allowing for adaptation. With this feature, women can choose to either initiate conversations or set up an opening question, like asking a potential match who their ideal dinner guest would be, to encourage the other party to make the first move.

In addition to this, Bumble’s redesign introduces updated “dating intentions” badges—these let users specify on their profiles what they’re looking for, whether it’s a life partner or more casual, fun dates. The update also mandates that users include additional photos in their bios, and it emphasizes common interests at the top of potential matches’ profiles to create connections with more compatible matches.

Millions of people globally still depend on dating apps for connection. In 2023, Bumble reported having 42 million monthly active users across its various platforms.

According to Pew Research, half of U.S. adults under 30 have experimented with a dating app or website, but these platforms often fail to impress their users. An Axios/Generation Lab survey involving nearly 1,000 college and graduate students revealed that most seldom use their dating apps.

In the competitive landscape, newer apps are challenging established services like Bumble by incorporating advanced machine-learning techniques to facilitate and sustain conversations between potential matches. Some innovative apps are even automating initial interactions with chatbots.

Dating App Matchmaking Graph

Bumble and Tinder have long utilized machine learning in their matching algorithms. This use of advanced technology helps to analyze user preferences and behaviors, thereby enhancing the accuracy and efficiency of the matchmaking process. By processing vast amounts of data, these algorithms can predict compatibility more effectively, leading to better user experiences and potentially more meaningful connections. This approach not only streamlines the search process but also tailors it to the individual preferences of users, making it a cornerstone of their technological strategy.

Financial experts on Wall Street anticipate that Bumble will report a profit of $12 million for the first quarter of this year on May 8, a significant improvement from the $2.3 million loss recorded in the same quarter of the previous year. Additionally, the number of Bumble’s paying subscribers is projected to increase by 14%, reaching over 3.9 million.

“We’re very fortunate to have very healthy financials to be able to invest in growth for the company, and still deliver profitability for our shareholders,” Jones told CNN. “We’re at a really great inflection point of, we have enough scale and we also have a lot of room to grow ahead, where we can balance both of those goals together.”

To read more about Bumble and what they are doing to bring new innovations to the way we think about dating apps, be sure to check out our complete Bumble review.

Molly Davis
Molly Davis

Molly is an East Coast writer who lives on West Coast time. She’s been in the journalism field for over 20 years — newspapers are her first love but she’s finding digital media to be just as fun and challenging as print! When she’s not giving therapist-quality dating advice, she’s curled up watching movies, reading, or volunteering at local dog shelters.