Bumble, a popular female-friendly dating and networking app that was founded by CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd and that is led by a workforce that is 85 percent female, recently announced that it is now helping similar companies achieve their own successes. This is being done through the Bumble Fund, a venture capital fund; the company has committed more than $1 million to it and has and will make individual investments in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $250,000.
The decision to create the Bumble Fund was made primarily because, up to this point, businesses that are led by women receive a small percentage of the venture capital dollars spent. Specifically, in 2017, female founders were the recipients of just 2 percent, $2 billion of the $85 billion invested, of that year’s total. Of the rest of the money, 79 percent went to all-male teams, 12 percent to those with mixed-gender teams and 7 percent to organizations for whom the gender makeup of those in charge could not be determined.
However, despite so little money being invested in companies with a female focus, those that do such as Whitney Wolfe Herd’s Bumble regularly outperform ones with all-male founding teams.
Much of the focus of Whitney Wolfe Herd’s Bumble Fund will be on businesses led and founded by women of color and women from other underrepresented groups. That’s because the statistics as they relate to those types of organizations are even more distressing. Of the venture funding numbers for startups in 2017, women of color received almost none, a paltry 0.2 percent. This is the case despite the fact that black women are the country’s most educated group.
Sarah Jones Simmer, the app’s chief operating officer, will team up with Sarah Kunst, its senior advisor, in leading the company’s investment strategy as it relates to the Bumble Fund. The first five companies that were recipients of funds from this were BeautyCon, Cleo Capital, Female Founders Fund, Mahmee and Sofia Los Angeles. More are and will continue to be identified. Bumble Bizz, which allows professionals to connect with each other, will be amongst the resources utilized. Companies that are interested will also receive opportunities to make pitches in the coming months.
Bumble is one of the smallest startups to announce intents to invest in others in the past several months. Sarah Jones Simmer said that it was important to her and to the rest of the Bumble board to not wait until after the app had become a more significant power in the field and financially and to start giving back now, after a considerable amount of early success has been realized by the company.
It should be noted that the Bumble Fund will be focused on more than just contributing capital, according to Sarah Jones Simmer. Everything that Bumble has overcome and built over the past several years as a female-founded and female-led company consists of valuable information that can be passed on to other companies who are and will experience similar challenges. In fact, Bumble still experiences many of these challenges today, and how these current obstacles are overcome can also be passed on to others.
In fact, Bumble itself is a great example of a female-led company that has experienced quite a bit of success. The app has 37 million users and is similar to Tinder in that users swipe left or right to indicate whether or not the profile being shown is one that is intriguing but is different too as, in heterosexual match-ups, only women are allowed to start a conversation with a match. Whitney Wolfe Herd recently said that the reason for this difference is to change the “sexist” way of thinking that women should wait for men to come to them and should instead be the ones making the first moves. This also allows men to not have the pressure of making the first move in situations like this which is so commonplace in many dating situations, online and off.
The dating app had been founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014 after she had worked for Tinder and left amidst sexual discrimination allegations; a resulting million-dollar lawsuit was later settled. Match Group, the company that owns Tinder, has both attempted to buy Bumble and sue it since then as Bumble continues to take more and more of a chunk of the dating-app market.
After leaving Tinder under traumatic circumstances, Bumble co-founder Whitney Wolfe started her own dating app that grew to be one of the biggest in the space.
Bumble has also been in the news repeatedly throughout the past several months for other reasons. Guns were banned from profile pictures posted on its app on March 5 in the aftermath of the shooting that had occurred a few weeks earlier in Parkland, Fla. The next day, it and the Los Angeles Clippers announced a partnership, the first between a female-driven brand with a major professional sports team. A break-up with Facebook followed on April 17 as the result of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, which is what resulted in the public revealing of the extensiveness of the data mining that Facebook had been involved with. As a result, linking a profile with a Facebook page is no longer required.
The impact of the Bumble Fund will likely be felt for years to come, which is something that those who are responsible for Bumble’s success feel a lot of pride about. In a statement that accompanied the fund’s launch, Whitney Wolfe Herd said that she is “deeply passionate about … investing in and empowering women in business.” It was also pointed out in that statement that one of the intents behind the creation of the Bumble Fund is to demonstrate that investing in these types of companies will help build successful businesses that prove to be assets in their respective fields.
The dating app has committed to utilizing the Bumble Fund to help other companies get on their feet financially and experience success for at least the next 18 months. At that point, the program will be reassessed; there has already been talk that it could be expanded at that time.
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