Whitney Wolfe Herd doesn’t care what she’s supposed to do

It’s 4:55pm Central Time on a Tuesday at Bumble headquarters in Austin, Texas. Whitney Wolfe Herd, the 28-year-old founder and CEO of the woman-led dating app is showing me around the nearly four-year-old startup’s office before we sit down to talk.

Our first stop is the standard startup watering hole, with a few twists. The fridges are stocked with Topo Chico instead of La Croix and the built-in taps are purely for decoration. Maybe one day they’ll be filled with Kombucha or iced coffee, a team member tells me. But no mention of beer. We’re not in Silicon Valley anymore.

As Wolfe Herd pours two glasses of white wine and plops in a few ice cubes, she briefly pauses to ask if I’m okay with the drink selection. Her question quickly caused my mind to wander back to my 21st birthday when a waiter told me men aren’t supposed to drink white wine with ice cubes.

There was perhaps no better way to begin my time with Wolfe Herd than a reminder that no matter how many hundreds of millions of woman-initiated matches have been made on Bumble, the company still exists in a world so ingrained with gender stereotypes that we couldn’t get through pouring a drink before the first one reared its head.

Luckily for me and my unsophisticated palate, I’d soon learn that Whitney Wolfe Herd doesn’t particularly care what people think that she or Bumble are supposed to do, let alone what we should be drinking.

‘I’m not building a dating app’

Bumble isn’t Wolfe Herd’s first exposure to the world of digital dating and connections. She moved to Los Angeles in 2012 and became an early co-founder of Tinder, but eventually left the company amid allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination against another one of the company’s co-founders. The lawsuit was settled, and while the past is the past, the history does help set the stage for the idea that would eventually turn into Bumble.

“I was just poof, gone, ceased to exist. It was like leaving behind an abandoned life, fleeing from the storm or whatever it was,” explained Wolfe Herd when talking about leaving Los Angeles after her time at Tinder. “I was experiencing all this, and then the Twitterverse and the Instagram world and the online sphere started attacking me. And I had never really understood online bullying. I didn’t even know what that meant or what it felt like. It made me really depressed.”

As successful entrepreneurs are known to do, Wolfe Herd soon began figuring out a way to leverage these closely held personal experiences into a new product. Her solution was Merci, a female-only social network “rooted in compliments and kindness and good behavior.”

Original mockup of Bumble, then known as Merci

While she was building out the idea, Andrey Andreev, founder and CEO of Badoo, the largest dating platform in the world, contacted her. Little did Wolfe Herd know, but Andreev saw her departure from Tinder as an opportunity, inviting her to meet the Badoo team in London where it had been based for more than 10 years. After some reluctance on Wolfe Herd’s part, she decided to go for it. After all, she was looking for feedback on her Merci idea, and worst-case she’d at least leave with a better idea of what she wanted to build next.

But Andreev had other plans. During their first meeting he frankly asked Wolfe Herd to become the chief marketing officer of Badoo.

She didn’t even consider the offer. First, it would have required her to move to London and, more importantly she was adamant about never working in the dating world again. With the CMO offer in the meeting’s rearview mirror, Wolfe Herd shifted the conversation to Merci, and gave Andreev a deep dive into her idea for a woman-only social network grounded in compliments and positive feedback.

“I love it,” Andreev said. “We’re going to name the dating app Merci.”

She was aghast, even in her retelling of the story.

“The what? What are you talking about? Did you hear what I said? I’m not building a dating app. Merci is the name of my female-only social network.”  

Andreev clarified: “I love your vision for a female-first platform, but you need to do this in dating.”

He essentially offered her the funding she needed to get the app off the ground, and, perhaps more importantly, full access to Badoo’s technical team to build and ship it. Plus, full creative control and decision-making ability regarding the direction of the new company.

From L-R: Whitney Wolfe Herd, Andrey Andreev and Sarah Jones Simmer, Bumble’s COO

But Wolfe Herd had no interest in building such an app, and Andreev had no interest in getting involved with a new social network. So she headed home, all the more determined to make Merci the next big thing. But the offer from Andreev was still lingering in the back of her mind.

“My husband, boyfriend, whatever you want to call him — Michael, we’ll just call him Michael,” Wolfe Herd told me. “Michael was like, ‘Whit, this opportunity doesn’t strike twice. You’re going to try and raise money right now? You’re literally a scorned seductress, according to the VC community right now. Good luck to you. I know you don’t have the backbone right now,’ because I had been so depleted and I was so low on myself.”

With the encouragement of her then-boyfriend (now husband) Michael Herd, she decided that Andreev’s offer was too good to pass up, and headed back to London, where she essentially made a handshake deal with him to build this new woman-first dating app.

Bumble was born

The company would exist as a new entity with 20 percent ownership belonging to Wolfe Herd, 79 percent to Badoo and 1 percent divided between Christopher Gulczynski and Sarah Mick, two early consultants who went on to join full-time after the company was up and running. Briefly named Moxie, the group settled on Bumble after a trademark search turned up conflicts.

Bumble would be run independently from Austin, Texas, with the ability to tap into Andreev and Badoo’s years of experience in the dating industry when needed. It certainly wasn’t a typical arrangement, especially in the world of tech startups where, in order to build a successful company, you’re supposed to rally a group of two to three co-founders, raise a seed round, then a Series A and so on.

But now, four years and 30 million users later, Bumble’s cap table looks exactly the same as it did the day the company was founded. Wolfe Herd’s 20 percent undiluted founder’s stake is evidence that an atypical path was right for Bumble.

A startup office with no engineers

It quickly becomes apparent to me as a technology writer walking through Bumble’s Austin headquarters that this isn’t your typical startup office. It looks and feels much more like a living room than any sort of standard tech office environment.

For a small space that is now overflowing with more than 50 employees, there are only about 25 desks, and most of those remained empty during my two-day visit. Everyone seems to prefer rotating through conference rooms, counters, coffee tables, floors and the largest couch I’ve ever seen, which sits in a semicircle ready to comfortably fit upwards of 30 people, if needed.

“I believe in taking people away from their desks and making them feel collaborative and inspire one another instead of being siloed,” she explained.

While the setup may not work for some companies, it certainly does for Bumble. But that doesn’t mean everyone agrees. Wolfe Herd explained that they had to rotate through multiple designers before settling on one that aligned with her vision.

“So many people wanted to make it hyper functional and minimalistic and stark…almost cold,” she told me. “I didn’t want it to feel that way. I wanted it to feel welcoming and warm and do it differently.”

The design isn’t the only thing that stands out when walking through Bumble’s office. It also doesn’t have a single engineer.

Just like Andreev promised Wolfe Herd when they first decided to build Bumble, all engineering is still handled in Badoo’s London offices. While some technology veterans may bash Bumble for offloading their engineering to their parent company, she is unapologetic about the benefits and practicality of the arrangement.

“Had I gone out and tried to do this on my own with no tech support, Bumble would be a year-and-a-half behind. Think of all the marriages and babies and connections we’ve made [in that time],” explained Wolfe Herd.    

She continued: “It’s like building a road. If you can get the materials from someone quicker that will make people’s lives easier, why would you say, ‘No, I want to build this with my own two hands,’ just to be able to say I did?”

I asked Wolfe Herd if there are ever times when their team has wished that their developers were sitting in the next room, standing by for a product consultation or roadmapping session.

But Wolfe Herd actually attributes much of Bumble’s success to working in an environment devoid of a dev team. Specifically, she explained that it gave her team the creative freedom to allow Bumble’s message and brand to drive the product, and not vice versa. By letting branding take the front seat instead of product, Bumble leapfrogged the “connections app” phase and became a lifestyle brand.

“How do you have different touch points in a user’s life? How do you reach them on their drive home from work? How do you talk to them on social media? How do you make them feel special? How do you add your brand into their different touch points?” Wolfe Herd says. Her original vision was to build a social network rooted in positivity and affirmations, but asking (and answering) these questions has allowed her to help in building a whole world for Bumble users rooted in positivity and affirmations.

Versace, Balenciaga, Bumble

Last summer if you happened to be walking through New York’s trendy Soho neighborhood you may have noticed a new tenant sandwiched between Versace and Balenciaga on Mercer Street.

In a first for a dating app and pretty much any social app, Bumble opened a physical space as an attempt to formalize the community that was naturally forming around it. At the time she told me that the opening coincided with Bumble’s brand becoming something that people are now proud to associate with in real life.

Bumble’s New York City Hive

This message was repeatedly echoed to me by others around Wolfe Herd, and it seems to be one of the internal barometers the company uses to track its success. Samantha Fulgham, Bumble’s second employee who now leads campus marketing and outreach, explained how male college students are now applying to become ambassadors, interns and even full-time employees.

“We tried to [have male students be campus ambassadors] in the U.S. probably two years ago. They didn’t really want to do it, because they thought it was a girl thing. Now we’re trying it again in Canada and we’ve already had so many guys asking how they can work for Bumble… saying, ‘I want to be a part of this company.’”

And it’s not just college students champing at the bit to associate themselves with the brand. When Bumble launched its business networking product last fall, the startup’s NY launch party was attended by Priyanka Chopra, Kate Hudson and Karlie Kloss, while the L.A. event hosted Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Garner and Kim Kardashian West.

Bumble Bizz’s NYC Launch Party. From L-R: Whitney Wolfe Herd, Priyanka Chopra, Karlie Kloss, Fergie and Kate Hudson. By Neil Rasmus/BFA.com.

A digital response to a real problem

Bumble has been able to grow into the company it is today because it was founded on the basic principle of taking a stance on a contested issue: Women were never supposed to make the first move. But Bumble didn’t stop there, and under Wolfe Herd the startup has been very vocal about making sure they are using their voice to address issues that other companies are taught to avoid taking a stance on.  

In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting, Bumble did something that breaks just about every rule taught in marketing and PR 101: The dating app very publicly decided to insert itself right in the middle of our nation’s ongoing gun debate by banning images of guns on its platform.

“We just want to create a community where people feel at ease, where they do not feel threatened, and we just don’t see guns fitting into that equation,” Wolfe Herd told The New York Times after the ban.

She told me at the time that the move shouldn’t be seen as Bumble taking a hard stance against guns or gun owners, but rather taking a hard stance against normalizing violence on their platform.

While an outsider may have been surprised to see such a fast-growing company break the status quo and decide to take a stance on a political issue, those who know Wolfe Herd will say that doing things like this is exactly why Bumble has become so successful in such a short amount of time.

What’s next?

For an industry that’s been around since the beginning of time, matchmaking sure is having its moment. And even the big players want a piece of the action; Facebook has announced it’s expanding into the dating space. So how does Bumble, a barely four-year-old, non-venture-backed company take advantage of all this attention while simultaneously defending itself from the threat of big players entering the space?

Over the summer we reported that Tinder’s parent company Match was set on acquiring Bumble, first at a $450 million valuation, then a few months later at “well over” $1 billion. It would have been an ironic ending for a company that was at least partially founded because of Wolfe Herd’s negative experiences surrounding her time at Tinder and Match.

Ultimately negotiations fell through between the two companies, and from there things escalated quickly. In March, Match sued Bumble for “patent infringement and misuse of intellectual property,” and a few weeks later Bumble sued Match for fraudulently obtaining trade secrets during the acquisition process. Both lawsuits are still making their way through the courts, but it’s safe to say that a deal between the two is off the table for the foreseeable future.

So what’s next for Bumble? The company is profitable and self-sustaining, and has no need to take on capital or sell itself. But Wolfe Herd acknowledged that the right acquirer may allow them to fulfill their goal of “recalibrating gender norms and empowering people to connect globally” at a much faster pace.

Wolfe Herd explained: “If the right opportunity presents itself, we’ll absolutely explore that and we’ll absolutely always explore the best way to take what we’re trying to do and what our mission is and what our values are. If we can be acquired, that will help us scale 10 times faster and that’s something that’s interesting to us, right?”

But she was also clear that cash isn’t what they’re looking for. “We would only ever consider an acquisition of sorts that brings strategic intellectual capital to the table, strategic knowledge of new markets that we have not yet gone into, and added value in ways that supersedes just straight cash,” said Wolfe Herd.

To the casual observer it sounds a lot like Facebook and its 2+ billion active users could do a pretty good job helping Bumble quickly spread its message around the world.

And Bumble seems to agree. After Facebook’s announcement about its dating play, Bumble issued a statement saying, “We were thrilled when we saw today’s news. Our executive team has already reached out to Facebook to explore ways to collaborate. Perhaps Bumble and Facebook can join forces to make the connecting space even more safe and empowering.”

In a conversation with me following the announcement, Wolfe Herd said that Facebook’s expansion into dating “is actually super exciting for the industry, because if you look at the history of Facebook when it comes to building their own products versus acquiring, they oftentimes attempt to build their own. If those products don’t successfully come to market, there’s usually a transition into acquisition. Who knows what will happen?”

So if Facebook comes knocking, don’t be surprised if Bumble answers… and quickly. But if they don’t, then current indicators are that Bumble will be just fine.

In just four years the company has flipped the switch on app-based dating, taking something that was once taboo and making it something that users are proud to associate with. So luckily for the more than 30 million women (and men) who have used Bumble to break gender stereotypes and make over 2 billion matches on their own terms, Whitney Wolfe Herd didn’t care what she or her company were supposed to do.

Bumble is suing Match Group for $400M for fraudulently obtaining trade secrets

Two weeks ago Match Group (Tinder’s parent company) sued Bumble for patent infringement and misuse of intellectual property.

Bumble has now returned the favor by filing a separate lawsuit accusing Match of multiple improprieties in regards to interactions between the two companies over the past few months.

To be clear, this lawsuit isn’t a response to Match’s initial lawsuit, and instead is a separate action raising new allegations against Tinder’s parent company. Bumble had previously published a letter in response to Match’s initial lawsuit, but will presumably also file a a file a separate response to that initial lawsuit, unless a judge decides to consolidate the two cases.

First, the lawsuit acknowledges that Bumble and Match Group were in acquisition talks over the last 6 months, something TechCrunch has previously reported. Bumble alleges that once Match Group found out there were other companies also interested in either investing in or acquiring Bumble, Match Group filed their aforementioned lawsuit to make Bumble less attractive to those other companies.

Secondly, Bumble alleges that during the acquisition process Match Group fraudulently requested that Bumble provide “confidential and trade secret information” which Match Group said they “needed to provide a higher offer for Bumble”. Bumble alleges that no subsequent offer came, and Match Group instead requested and obtained this information solely for “the financial benefit of its dating app businesses”.

Lastly, Bumble is claiming that Match Group disparaged Bumble, which has potentially affected Bumble’s other investment and acquisition opportunities. Specifically, Bumble alleges that Match Group “published false or disparaging information about Bumble, including statements in the press falsely claiming that Bumble infringed Match’s intellectual property, as well as false statements in the Lawsuit”.

The lawsuit requests relief in the form of monetary damages, which Bumble estimates at $400M. Additionally, they are requesting a permanent injunction preventing Match or any affiliates from using any of the obtained confidential information.

While the lawsuit does briefly touch on why Bumble thinks Match Group’s patent infringement claims are frivolous, the main focus is on these new allegations against Match Group.

The whole situation seems messy, as is often the case with lawsuits between two major competitors. It’s all complicated by the fact that Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd was a co-founder of Tinder, and was involved in previous litigation related to harassment and discrimination.

Bumble declined to comment on the lawsuit. We’ve reached out to Match Group and will update this post if we hear back.

Morning Brew is a daily business briefing built for millennials

What’s the best way to stay up to date on things happening within your industry? Seasoned finance professionals read the Wall Street Journal. Anyone who wants to work in politics reads The Washington Post. In Silicon Valley we have industry-specific news sites like TechCrunch supplemented by Hacker News and others.

But what about young business professionals who either don’t plan in staying in one industry their whole life or just want to stay up to date on the broader business/tech/startups/politics world?

Morning Brew is a daily newsletter designed for young business professionals. Each morning email has a stock market recap, a few short briefs on the most important business news of the day and a small section with lifestyle content. The result is the perfect mix of Wall Street essentials (like market analysis) and tech news (like a deep dive on Y Combinator).

The newsletter, which now has just under 200,000 total subscribers, was founded by Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief in 2015 when they were students at the University of Michigan.

“We worked with more than 75 students to help them prepare for interviews and internships and we’d always ask the question, “How do you keep up with the business world?” It was like every student had rehearsed their answers together beforehand, saying something to the effect of “I read the WSJ…and I read it because it’s a prerequisite to say you’re well-read in business and it’s what my parents do, but it’s dense, dry, and too long to read cover-to-cover,” explained the duo.

So Morning Brew was born. While initially college-focused in the beginning, that segment has shrunk to 30% of their total audience with the average reader now 28-years old working in finance, tech, or consulting. Of course there’s nothing stopping an older reader from signing up, and if anything sites like Axios have shown that even non-millennials may now prefer short bullet-point briefings over traditional long-form reporting.

But business-minded millennials are definitely the long-term focus of Morning Brew – and for good reason. The segment is extremely sought after in the advertising world, which has helped the startup monetize early. So far they’ve hosted sponsored native content from brands like Discover Card, Casper and Duke University. The diversity of sponsors shows just how many different industries are trying to reach the demographic.

Similar to other newsletter businesses like theSkimm, Morning Brew has mainly relied on word of mouth referrals and an ambassador program of 700+ students to drive new signups. Total subscribers are nearing 200,000 with a daily open rate hovering around 50%, which for reference is at least double most other popular industry newsletters.

The long term goal is to grow the newsletter into a brand that can touch all aspects of a young professional’s life, including networking. The site is launching a monthly event series this summer to bring together millennials to network and watch panel discussions, which should provide the off-line community building that has proved successful for other media brands.

The startup has raised $750,000 in seed funding from notable media execs including Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of The Points Guy, and is targeting a Series A in 2019.

Lawyaw uses AI to help lawyers draft documents faster

It’s no secret that much of the legal industry is build on reusable content. Most law firms have their own customized set of standard documents (like NDAs or Wills), but lawyers or associates still have to customize these documents by hand each time a client needs them drafted.

Lawyaw, part of YC’s Winter ’18 class, is building software to automate this process by letting lawyers turn previously completed documents into smart templates.

Here’s how it works: Lawyers can drag an already customized world document into Lawyaw’s platform and it will automatically use natural language processing to first figure out what sections need to be replaced, then actually fill in those sections with the correct personalized phrases and variables. For example, software will automatically detect and replace a client’s name, contact information, location, and even more complicated things like scope of engagement.

If a variable isn’t automatically detected Lawyaw lets users manually select it, which the software will remember for future uses. Currently the platform only identifies about 50% of all variables in a document (up from 10% when it launched), but of those detected the accuracy rate for autofilling correct information is 99%. So essentially the algorithm is optimizing for quality over quantity right now, but that should equalize as the natural language processing gets better over time.

Of course Lawyaw isn’t the only solution for automatically populating legal documents. But most other solutions use complex document customization that requires knowledge of conditionals, tags and syntax. Plus, the platform has a few other useful features like integrated e-signing and a directory of over 5,000 standard court forms that can be customized.

Lawyaw charges each user $59 per month or $39 if paid annually. Interested users can just sign ups themselves instead of having to be subjected to firm-wide demos or annoying sales reps, both of which are still the status quo for legal software.

So far over 1,000 law firms have signed up, with 900 lawyers actively drafting over 24,000 total documents to date.

CryptoKitties raises $12M from Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures

CryptoKitties, the virtual collectible kitten game that turned into a viral sensation has raised $12M in funding and will be spun out from Axiom Zen, the Vancouver and San Francisco-based design studio that originally built the game.

The round is being led by Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, both of which have quickly developed a reputation for backing fast-growing cryptocurrency startups like Coinbase. A bunch of notable angels also participated, including Naval Ravikant (CEO and founder of AngelList), Mark Pincus (founder of Zynga) and Fred Ehrsam (founder of Coinbase) among others.

So what are CryptoKitties? They’re essentially digital collectibles built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Each one is unique and has certain attributes that make them rare and desirable, almost like a digital beanie baby. And users are spending tons of real money on them, with some of the rarest kitties fetching over $100,000 when the game first launched.

While the startup is being pretty mum on what the future looks like and what they’re planning on using this funding for, it’s almost certain that the long term goal is to expand beyond CryptoKitties and use the same Ethereum ERC-721 collectible standard to create other game experiences, especially ones that can be played by regular people who are unfamiliar with cryptocurrency.

To this note, Fred Wilson of USV quickly outlined the firm’s thesis behind investing in CryptoKitties, saying “we think digital collectibles is one of many amazing things that blockchains enable that literally could not be done before this technology emerged. We also think digital collectibles and all of the games they enable will be one of the first, if not the first, big consumer use cases for blockchain technologies.” 

If you want to find out more about how CryptoKitties works check out our original story here.

Bumble responds to Match’s patent lawsuit

Yesterday we reported that Match, the parent company of Tinder, was suing Bumble for patent infringement and misuse of intellectual property.

Specifically, Match alleged that Bumble “copied Tinder’s world-changing, card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise” for which a patent was filed in 2013 (before Bumble was founded) but just granted a few months ago.

Today Bumble has responded to Match’s lawsuit with a letter published on their own blog and other news outlets. The full letter is linked here and we’ll also include it in full at the bottom of this post.

Interestingly, Bumble’s letter focuses less on the actual litigation and instead attempts to fill in readers about the context in which Match has decided to sue over this patent claim.

Specifically, the letter notes that this lawsuit comes after Match has made repeated attempts to buy Bumble as well as launch a copy cat “lady’s first” feature. While Bumble or Match have never publicly acknowledged negotiations between the two companies, sources close to the situation have confirmed in the past to TechCrunch that there were multiple back and forth offers from Match which fell short of Bumble’s desired valuation.

With sources close to the two companies telling TechCrunch that this is the first time Match has ever mentioned possible patent infringements by Bumble, it’s very possible that Match feels that discussions have stalled and this is their way of either forcing the deal forward or making Bumble an unattractive target for other bidders that may be scared off by this potential legal liability.

The letter shows that Bumble essentially agrees with this analysis, as they openly call out the lawsuit as an intimidation tactic by saying “we swipe left on your attempted scare tactics, and on these endless games. We swipe left on your assumption that a baseless lawsuit would intimidate us.”

While anything is possible (especially in the world of M&A), the letter also strongly suggests that as of now any chance of a deal between the two companies are seriously off the table, as Bumble says “we’ll never be yours, no matter the price tag”.

When asked if any company besides Match has made a competing offer, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd told TechCrunch that “Bumble is very excited about other potential opportunities that are still very much in discussion, and none of the recent news has affected these conversations.”

In regards to the lawsuit itself, Bumble does say (in a footnote) that they “vigorously dispute this lawsuit’s baseless claims and look forward to telling their story in court”.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. If Bumble has truly swiped left on Match for good, than the dating conglomerate may feel like they have nothing to lose by pursuing their lawsuit against Bumble for as long as possible. Or, maybe it is all one big negotiating technique and they’ll end up dropping it before coming back to Bumble with a larger offer.

Either way, we’ll keep you updated as soon as we find out more. Here’s the full letter from Bumble to Match below:

Dear Match Group,

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.

We swipe left on your attempted scare tactics, and on these endless games. We swipe left on your assumption that a baseless lawsuit would intimidate us. Given your enduring interest in our company, we expected you to know us a bit better by now.

We — a woman-founded, women-led company — aren’t scared of aggressive corporate culture. That’s what we call bullying, and we swipe left on bullies. Ask the thousands of users we’ve blocked from our platform for bad behavior.

In fact, that behavior? It only fuels us. It motivates us to push our mission further — to work harder each day to build a platform, community, and brand that promotes kindness, respect, and equality. That’s the thing about us. We’re more than a feature where women make the first move. Empowerment is in our DNA. You can’t copy that.

So when you announced recently, in another attempt to intimidate us, that you were going to try to replicate our core, women-first offering and plug it in to Tinder, we applauded you for the attempt to make that subsidiary safer.

We strive every day to protect our nearly 30 million users, and to engineer a more accountable environment. Instead of swinging back and forth between trying to buy us, copy us, and sue us, why don’t you spend that time taking care of bad behavior on your platforms?

We remain focused on improving our users’ experience, and taking our mission worldwide, until every woman knows she has the power to make the first move, to go after what she wants, and to say “no” without fear.

We as a company will always swipe right for empowered moves, and left on attempts to disempower us. We encourage every user to do the same. As one of our mottos goes, “bee kind or leave.”

We wish you the best, but consider yourselves blocked.

Bumble

Bumble responds to Match’s patent lawsuit

Yesterday we reported that Match, the parent company of Tinder, was suing Bumble for patent infringement and misuse of intellectual property.

Specifically, Match alleged that Bumble “copied Tinder’s world-changing, card-swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise” for which a patent was filed in 2013 (before Bumble was founded) but just granted a few months ago.

Today Bumble has responded to Match’s lawsuit with a letter published on their own blog and other news outlets. The full letter is linked here and we’ll also include it in full at the bottom of this post.

Interestingly, Bumble’s letter focuses less on the actual litigation and instead attempts to fill in readers about the context in which Match has decided to sue over this patent claim.

Specifically, the letter notes that this lawsuit comes after Match has made repeated attempts to buy Bumble as well as launch a copy cat “lady’s first” feature. While Bumble or Match have never publicly acknowledged negotiations between the two companies, sources close to the situation have confirmed in the past to TechCrunch that there were multiple back and forth offers from Match which fell short of Bumble’s desired valuation.

With sources close to the two companies telling TechCrunch that this is the first time Match has ever mentioned possible patent infringements by Bumble, it’s very possible that Match feels that discussions have stalled and this is their way of either forcing the deal forward or making Bumble an unattractive target for other bidders that may be scared off by this potential legal liability.

The letter shows that Bumble essentially agrees with this analysis, as they openly call out the lawsuit as an intimidation tactic by saying “we swipe left on your attempted scare tactics, and on these endless games. We swipe left on your assumption that a baseless lawsuit would intimidate us.”

While anything is possible (especially in the world of M&A), the letter also strongly suggests that as of now any chance of a deal between the two companies are seriously off the table, as Bumble says “we’ll never be yours, no matter the price tag”.

When asked if any company besides Match has made a competing offer, Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd told TechCrunch that “Bumble is very excited about other potential opportunities that are still very much in discussion, and none of the recent news has affected these conversations.”

In regards to the lawsuit itself, Bumble does say (in a footnote) that they “vigorously dispute this lawsuit’s baseless claims and look forward to telling their story in court”.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. If Bumble has truly swiped left on Match for good, than the dating conglomerate may feel like they have nothing to lose by pursuing their lawsuit against Bumble for as long as possible. Or, maybe it is all one big negotiating technique and they’ll end up dropping it before coming back to Bumble with a larger offer.

Either way, we’ll keep you updated as soon as we find out more. Here’s the full letter from Bumble to Match below:

Dear Match Group,

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.

We swipe left on your attempted scare tactics, and on these endless games. We swipe left on your assumption that a baseless lawsuit would intimidate us. Given your enduring interest in our company, we expected you to know us a bit better by now.

We — a woman-founded, women-led company — aren’t scared of aggressive corporate culture. That’s what we call bullying, and we swipe left on bullies. Ask the thousands of users we’ve blocked from our platform for bad behavior.

In fact, that behavior? It only fuels us. It motivates us to push our mission further — to work harder each day to build a platform, community, and brand that promotes kindness, respect, and equality. That’s the thing about us. We’re more than a feature where women make the first move. Empowerment is in our DNA. You can’t copy that.

So when you announced recently, in another attempt to intimidate us, that you were going to try to replicate our core, women-first offering and plug it in to Tinder, we applauded you for the attempt to make that subsidiary safer.

We strive every day to protect our nearly 30 million users, and to engineer a more accountable environment. Instead of swinging back and forth between trying to buy us, copy us, and sue us, why don’t you spend that time taking care of bad behavior on your platforms?

We remain focused on improving our users’ experience, and taking our mission worldwide, until every woman knows she has the power to make the first move, to go after what she wants, and to say “no” without fear.

We as a company will always swipe right for empowered moves, and left on attempts to disempower us. We encourage every user to do the same. As one of our mottos goes, “bee kind or leave.”

We wish you the best, but consider yourselves blocked.

Bumble

Drake and Ninja are playing Fortnight live on Twitch

 

What do Drake, Ninja the professional esports player, Kim Dotcom, Travis Scott and NFL player JuJu Smith-Schuster have in common?

They’re all playing Fortnight together right now and live-streaming it on Twitch . Yes, seriously.

You can tune in to Ninja’s channel here to check out the action.

Right now the amount of live viewers is hovering around 600,000 which smashes Twitch’s previous record of 388,000 live concurrent viewers.

Drake and Ninja started playing together a few hours ago on Ninja’s channel, and were soon joined by the other members as word spread of the livestream. Ninja is playing on a PC while Drake is on a PS4, but the two can play together thanks to Fortnight’s cross-platform support for those two systems.

The group had their fair share of technical difficulties – especially when it came to adding new players to their party, mainly because everyone’s friend requests were maxed out. That’s definitely something Epic will to work on if Fortnight continues to be the preferred game of celebrities and athletes.

In all seriousness, it’s a big moment for esports and livestreaming in general. The fact that mainstream celebrities are not only spending their time playing (and talking about) massively popular video games, but doing it live so hundreds of thousands of others can watch is a huge validator for the future of the two industries and companies like Twitch and Epic Games .

As you can imagine, Twitter is going insane and we’re already getting some amazing memes.

Oh, and one more thing. Epic Games (the company that created Fortnight) is supposed to take down the game’s servers at 2am PT / 5am ET. Anyone want to bet that they’re going to reschedule?

Square Cash now supports direct deposits for your paycheck

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Alexa has literally lost her voice as users report outages and unresponsiveness

 Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant seems to be down this morning. We’ve been hearing reports over the last hour of either delayed responses or just total loss of connection. While Amazon doesn’t have a status page for its consumer products, Down Detector is reporting a huge spike in Alexa-related complaints over the last hour. For example, Alexa is giving me replies like… Read More