In business, as in romance, it is preferable to part ways on good terms. Otherwise it can be really weird if and when you run into your ex on the street, especially if they’re with their new beau – or, equally awkwardly, when you discover that your former employees are plotting to launch a start-up in direct competition with your company.
Ousted Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe officially unveiled new dating app Bumble this week, alongside fellow Tinder alumni Sarah Mick and Chris Gulczynski. If the name Whitney Wolfe rings a bell, it is probably because she sued Tinder earlier this year for sexual harassment and discrimination after her ex-boyfriend, then-CMO Justin Mateen, called her a “whore” in front of CEO Sean Rad. Mateen was swiftly suspended and shortly after he officially tendered his resignation.
Attitudes towards women in Silicon Valley have been put under the microscope of late, and tolerance of sexism in start-up culture is finally starting to wane, with Uber being the latest company to come under fire. It is getting harder to avoid the fact that many women are sick of messaging platforms which are essentially designed by obnoxious privileged dudes, for obnoxious privileged dudes, and this exasperation is evident in Bumble, which aims to be less “douchebag-friendly” than Tinder. According to the app’s official Facebook page, Bumble is “changing the rules of the game.”
“Other apps are full of creepy guys and cheesy pickup lines,” the blurb explains, “but Bumble promotes a safe and respectful community. You’ll never get unwanted messages and Bumble suggests matches based on more relevant signals than other, more shallow apps.” All of which could be interpreted as thinly veiled shade against Tinder, but it’s hard to argue with the overall principle that people might be inclined to make more meaningful connections if they are matched on something more than a photo.
But as Stuff’s Erna Mahyuni points out, Bumble might not be doing enough to differentiate itself from the countless dating apps out there, especially when it comes to the promotional imagery for the app, which places emphasis on looks rather than safety: “Note the toothsome models and idealised relationship in the app promo where the man is a young, but obviously upwardly mobile investment banker while the woman is a nubile intern at a fashion magazine… Bumble would be better off marketing itself to women as an app where creepy dudes won’t be able to message them so easily, presumably because you would need to out who you are and where you work.”