Whitney Wolfe, an early employee at Tinder who sued the company for sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, has joined up with two other early Tinder employees, Chris Gulczynski and his parnter Sarah Mick (cofounders of YayNext), to launch a direct competitor to Tinder called Bumble, sources tell TechCrunch.
According to the app’s Facebook page, Bumble is a social discovery app that “promotes a safe and respectful community” where “you’ll never get unwanted messages” and your suggestions will be more relevant than the “dead-end matches” you find on “other, more shallow apps.” You can check out the full description here.
Yesterday, Bumbleapp had a public Instagram account that showed a preview video of the app, which seems to look a lot like Tinder. It shows a user making a match and chatting. The account has since gone private, which might have to do with us looking into the company pre-launch.
The app website also shows photos of the app, which seems to use more detailed information than Tinder, including job position, company, college, and the year you graduated.
The Facebook page for the app shows a photo of the making of the app’s launch video, showing a helicopter and a boat being used during production. “Boats n’ bees,” read the caption. There are also photos on the founders’ Instagram accounts of video shoots to promote the app at Ham Yard Hotel in London.
The app is slated to launch on December 1, according to social media, and thus far that’s all we know about the actual product.
While Gulzcynski and Mick are repping Bumble hard on their social media, Wolfe has seemingly kept a low profile, not posting anything about the stealthy startup. However, sources tell us that Wolfe is at the helm alongside Mick and Gulzcynski. You can see in this photo from a month ago, posted by Mick, that Wolfe is sitting at what appears to be a startup office in front of a computer. The caption reads “working late.”
Update: The photo links to many of these images no longer work, so I’m including screenshots.
It’s unclear just how much the company has raised, but one source told TechCrunch that it’s in the millions. We’ve also heard about a number of different sources for the funding, including social dating service Badoo and Michael Herd, the multi-millionaire heir to an oil fortune. This summer, during the time of the lawsuit, sources told TechCrunch that Wolfe and Herd had been in a relationship. It’s unclear if the romantic relationship continues.
However, we’re told that the private jet ferrying the team to and from London belongs to Herd. In this photo from three months ago, you can see both Herd and Wolfe on the plane, and here you can see all four of them (Herd, Wolfe, Gulzcynski, and Mick) in London a couple of months ago.
The fact that Wolfe, Gulczynski and Mick are launching a direct competitor to Tinder brings up a number of interesting points. Of course, the most obvious one is that they’ll have inside knowledge of their biggest competitor, quite a bit of experience building an app like this, and they have enough public visibility to spread awareness quickly. Beyond that, the app seems squarely countered against a ‘shallow’ Tinder experience where you receive ‘unwanted messages’, all with the subtext that the founder of Bumble actually received unwanted messages from the co-founders of Tinder.
Whether or not Bumble will make a dent in Tinder’s near ubiquitous adoption is yet to be determined, but we’re bound to find out soon enough.
We’ve reached out to the Bumble team but have yet to hear back. Same goes for Tinder. We’ll be sure to update you if we do.