Bumble’s CEO Says Pandemic Transformed Online Dating | #tinder | #pof | romancescams | #scams

Dating has been transformed during the Covid-19 pandemic as people world-wide embraced online connections more than ever, according to

Bumble Inc.

As people were less able to meet in person due to lockdowns, many went online, reducing some of the stigma associated with online dating, Ms. Wolfe Herd said Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival.

Ms. Wolfe Herd said people advanced their relationships through the app in different ways during the pandemic. Instead of connecting, chatting and then meeting in person, many Bumble users in the past year decided to meet over video first before seeing each other in person, introducing a new step to online dating dynamics.

“People are basically doing the legwork of getting to know each other all through their phones, so when they do meet in person, they know what they are getting into,” Ms. Wolfe Herd said. “They know who that person is on the other end.”

Ms. Wolfe Herd also identified an increasingly popular possibility for dating apps: finding friends online. Bumble relaunched a feature on its platform named BFF that allows users to form and build friendships. During the pandemic, there has been an uptick especially by male users looking for friendships, Ms. Wolfe Herd said.

The company also plans to open a wine bar in New York this summer. Ms. Wolfe Herd said Bumble aimed for users to transition their online relationships to in-person interactions.

The chief executive’s appearance came about three months after Bumble’s trading debut. After a strong start, the app’s stock price has fallen by more than 25% to about $50 a share.

Ms. Wolfe Herd founded the Austin-based company in 2014. One of the flagship features on Bumble allows women in heterosexual matches to message a man first to make a connection. The goal was in part to limit aggressive and unsolicited messaging behaviors by some men that women have reported experiencing through online interactions. The app also has an option for users who seek same-sex interactions. Among Bumble’s early backers is private equity giant

Blackstone Group Inc.,

which bought a majority stake in the company in 2019.

Ms. Wolfe Herd earlier co-founded

Match Group Inc.’s

Tinder dating app.

Bumble’s revenue comes through in-app purchases offering premium features that aren’t available on the free version, including those that allow users to change their location to another city before a trip, or offer them additional control over who can see their profile. The company in March said it had 2.7 million paying users for the fourth quarter, up 32% from a year earlier. It reported a loss for the quarter of $26.1 million.

Ms. Wolfe Herd said Bumble planned to introduce more features for users that enable them to fine-tune their preferences. She said while the pandemic had shifted many processes in business and consumer habits, the need for relationships is a constant.

“We all need connection,” she said. “This is something that is never going away.”

Write to Sebastian Herrera at Sebastian.Herrera@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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