LeadershipBroadsheetDiversity and InclusionCareersVenture Capital

A Threat to Bumble’s Pro-Woman Cred: The Broadsheet

July 9, 2019, 11:09 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Instagram rolls out new anti-bullying tools, Elizabeth Warren out-fundraised Bernie Sanders, and Bumble’s backer is accused of misogyny. Have a terrific Tuesday. 


- Bumble gets stung. The dating app Bumble, led by founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, markets itself as a means of women's empowerment, since it gives female users 'first move' rights in romantic encounters of the digital kind. But a new Forbes exposé about Badoo, whose founder Russian billionaire Andrey Andreev majority owns Bumble, threatens to undercut Bumble's pro-woman cred. 

Employees at Badoo describe a toxic, sexist work environment, with internal engineering updates named after porn stars and "a widely circulated video of one employee receiving oral sex from a prostitute." (Badoo disputes that such a video exists.) Says former Badoo CMO Jessica Powell:  “While serving as the company’s CMO, I was told to act pretty for investors and make job candidates ‘horny’ to work for Badoo.” 

"[F]emale employees were routinely discussed in terms of their appearance," and concerns of women on staff "were ignored or minimized," she told Forbes

Andreev denies wrongdoing himself and denies knowledge of alleged wrongdoing by others. Wolfe Herd says she's never witnessed toxic behavior at the Badoo HQ, and she defends Andreev: "He’s become my family and one of my best friends." 

There are multiple levels of irony here, not least the fact that Wolfe Herd founded Bumble as an antidote to the male-dominated online dating culture shaped by the likes Tinder, the firm that Wolfe Herd, an early Tinder exec, once sued for sexual harassment. Now Bumble—that great feat of "corporate revenge," as Forbes puts it—is associated with the kind of alleged misogyny it's supposed to stand against. Forbes

Claire Zillman 





- A prompt to stop. A new Instagram feature takes steps to improve the platform's approach to harassment. Artificial intelligence will flag comments that may be offensive with prompts like "Are you sure you want to post this?" Another feature would "restrict" users so other users wouldn't see their comments; unlike blocking, the offender won't know they've been restricted. Fortune

- McGrath v. McConnell. Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath announced this morning that she will challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his seat. McGrath, a Democrat, narrowly lost a Kentucky House race in 2018 to Republican incumbent Andy Barr. Courier Journal

- The right(s) commission? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday introduced the Commission on Unalienable Rights, which will "re-examine" what is considered an "inalienable right." Activists worry it will be used to chip away at abortion rights and rights for same-sex couples. Washington Post

- Politics corner. In the last quarter of fundraising, Sen. Elizabeth Warren zoomed past both Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Kamala Harris, raking in a total of $19 million as her popularity surged. On a related note, a long piece in the Washington Post asks the question: why is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand being ignored? And Pete Buttigieg jumped on the Essence Festival policy proposal bandwagon with a plan encouraging black entrepreneurship named after Madam C. J. Walker. And she's not a 2020 candidate, but while we're talking politics—read the Washington Post's take on Rep. Ilhan Omar's American story: "It's complicated."

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The Northrop Grumman board has elected CEO Kathy Warden as its chairman. Intel hired VMware's Claire Dixon as corporate VP and chief communications officer. As part of the shakeup at Deutsche Bank, CFO of the corporate and investment bank Christiana Riley takes over responsibility for the Americas and will join Deutsche Bank’s management board. Naspers named Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa CEO of its South African unit, a notable milestone for the 100-year-old company founded by white South Africans. 


- From #KimOhNo to Kim Body? Now that Kim Kardashian West has agreed to change the name of her shapewear line, formerly Kimono, following outcry over cultural insensitivity, here's some more information on the forthcoming venture. It puts her in competition with Rihanna's Savage X Fenty and Sara Blakely's Spanx, but Kardashian West has been thinking about her take on shapewear for years. Wall Street Journal

- See them in court. If you want to know more about Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire charged with sex trafficking, you can get that background in Fortune. Another player in the case? Epstein's alleged "madame," Ghislaine Maxwell. Learn about her in The Cut

- Pride at YouTube. YouTube's problems with hate speech collided last month with its corporate efforts around Pride Month—a dichotomy some called hypocritical considering the hate speech directed at LGBTQ people allowed to remain online. Here's an in-depth look at what went wrong at the platform led by Susan Wojcicki: The New Yorker

- Honor to us all. It's a big week for Disney live-action movies. The remake of Mulan looks more like a feminist action movie than a musical, Vox says. And did you know? If The Lion King were accurate, it would be the female lions—Simba's mom, not dad—running the pride, National Geographic confirms. 

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma HinchliffeShare it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


Whoopi Goldberg on controversy and conversation New York Times Magazine

Dang, it feels good to watch the USWNT get drunk and celebrate its World Cup win Slate

Liberace is back—as muse to classical pianist Chloe Flower playing hip-hop Wall Street Journal

#MeToo-inspired stories have been making women villains as well as victims Slate


My feelings on the subject are too complicated and contradictory.

-Writer Mary Gaitskill on why she turned to fiction, instead of essay, to examine #MeToo