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Bumble called Tinder’s parent company a ‘bully’ and promised it would never sell to them, ‘no matter the price tag’

Bumble finally responded to a recent lawsuit from Match Group: “We swipe left on you ... We’ll never be yours.”

Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe speaks at an event.
Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe.
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Bumble

Match Group’s chances of acquiring the dating app Bumble have officially gone up in flames.

Bumble, the popular dating app that lets women make the first move, finally responded on Tuesday to a patent lawsuit Match filed against the startup late last week. Match, which owns another popular dating app and Bumble competitor, Tinder, is suing Bumble for violating two patents and for allegedly stealing trade secrets.

It was a lawsuit made all the more intriguing considering Match wants to acquire Bumble; the two companies have been in an ongoing courtship since last summer. The lawsuit felt like a strong bargaining chip — sell to us, and the lawsuit goes away.

But the lawsuit didn’t inspire Bumble to strike a deal. Instead, it killed any possibility of a deal altogether. In the ad, Bumble wrote that it wants to “swipe left” on Match Group.

“We swipe left on you,” the ad reads. “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.”

The ad then accused Match Group of bullying.

“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,” the ad reads.

In an internal memo sent to Match Group employees on Monday, CEO Mandy Ginsberg said that the lawsuit was nothing personal.

“I want to be clear about something: this is not about singling out any individual company,” Ginsberg wrote. “This is about protecting the integrity of your work.”

Tuesday’s ad, which also appeared in the the Dallas Morning News (Bumble is headquartered in Austin), is the latest chapter in what has been a long saga between Bumble and Match Group.

It starts with Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, a Tinder co-founder who left the company and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Tinder, Match and Match’s former parent company, IAC.

Herd then started Bumble in 2014, a dating app with a similar premise to Tinder that allows users to swipe left (no) or right (yes) on potential matches, pairing people up only when they’ve both shown interest. The secret sauce for Bumble is that women are always tasked with initiating the first conversation.

The app got big enough that Match tried to acquire Bumble last summer for $450 million. That offer was rejected. But Match remained interested, and the two sides maintained some level of contact up until the Match lawsuit was filed last week.

In an interview, Herd declined to comment on any specific deal discussions, but flicked at Match Group while confirming that Bumble is indeed talking to possible acquirers, including private companies and private equity firms.

“We’re exploring several different opportunities,” Herd said. “The interest is there, the conversations are going great, and even though there’s been a lot of noise in the media from one of those parties, it has not terminated or caused conflict with any of the other ones.”

Herd added that “we don’t need a capital investment,” and that “it’s healthy to explore the opportunities out there.”

Bumble hasn’t raised venture capital money in the same way that most startups do. Russian entrepreneur Andrey Andreev, who owns another dating service called Badoo, owns 79 percent of Bumble, with Herd maintaining a 20 percent stake herself. In January, CNBC reported that Badoo has hired a banker to explore a possible acquisition.

As for the lawsuit, it appears as though Bumble plans to fight.

Here’s the full ad, which you can also read on Bumble’s blog:

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.


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