Bumble Steels Itself to Fight Match—and for an IPO
Bumble is taking the gloves off. The dating and social connection app is moving forward with its $400 million lawsuit against Match, filed as a countersuit against the online dating giant in March, as Bumble gets ready to pursue an IPO.
Bumble had considered settling the suit but is now abandoning that path, founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd tells Fortune.
“We had considered a private opportunity to settle privately, and that’s something we’re no longer open to,” Wolfe Herd says. “Now we are ready to take it to court.”
Match first sued Bumble for infringement on intellectual property in March 2018, alleging that Bumble stole the dating-app swipe from Match-owned Tinder. Wolfe Herd was a co-founder of Tinder, before leaving that startup to found Bumble, which was the first dating app to give women control of matches and messaging with men.
Austin, Texas-based Bumble fired back later that month with a countersuit alleging that that lawsuit was frivolous, brought by Match after Match lowballed Bumble with an investment offer and then requested Bumble’s most sensitive records and business strategies to come back with another offer. Instead of making that offer, Bumble claims, Match used that information and then filed its lawsuit.
Bumble sued Match for tortious interference with Bumble’s prospective business relations, by preventing other companies from investing in or partnering with Bumble through its alleged bad faith investment attempts and lawsuit; promissory estoppel, promising an investment that never materialized; disparagement in Match’s lawsuit and in the press; and unfair competition, violation of the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act, and fraud all stemming from Match’s extraction of Bumble company information.
Bumble filed that countersuit in March, estimating damages of $400 million at the time, and today is serving that lawsuit. Wolfe Herd declined to comment on whether any of Bumble’s claims against Match have changed since March.
But Bumble is prepared to fight this until the end—even if it takes years. The startup, which has verticals for dating, networking, and friendship and recently announced plans to move into beauty, has an annual run rate of $200 million and says it has the resources to keep growing while battling this out.
“We feel very prepared, we feel very ready, we feel that we have all the bandwidth and all the resources we need. We have the intellectual capital and both the financial capital and we are ready to defend ourselves,” Wolfe Herd says.
As Bumble prepares for a lengthy, public legal battle with its top competitor—and one with a fraught history at that—the company is also saying for the first time that it plans to pursue an IPO. Wolfe Herd declined to comment on a potential timeline, but the company is doing its due diligence on going public now.
If Bumble wins this case, it plans to donate its proceeds to causes supporting women, which includes investing in its own venture capital arm, the Bumble Fund.
“This is our lawsuit that we believe strongly in, we feel is extremely valid,” Wolfe Herd says. “There is real strength in the possibility of us having a successful win.”