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How Bumble’s chief customer officer turns user insights into product updates, as swiping marks its 10-year anniversary

September 2, 2022, 11:59 AM UTC
Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of Bumble, speaks at a conference.
Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and chief executive officer of Bumble Trading Inc., speaks during the Fortune's Most Powerful Women conference on Oct. 3, 2018.
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! California authorizes funds to support out-of-state abortion seekers, a fashion designer favored by American politicians handles pandemic challenges, and Bumble is responding to user perspectives as it approaches the 10th anniversary of the swipe. The Broadsheet will be off on Monday for Labor Day in the U.S.—we’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday.

– Swipe on. This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the swipe. The method of dating app decision-making hit the scene with Tinder in September 2012 and quickly became ubiquitous in tech and society at large.

But what once was exciting has become routine. Dating app users told the New York Times last month how they feel “burned out” from the pressure to swipe, match, and chat daily with an endless cycle of potential matches that often fails to turn into more.

That sentiment has forced online dating businesses, desperate to appease users, to improve their products in an effort to meet changing needs. Tinder, for example, is building for Gen Z through gamification and features that promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

Bumble, the company founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd, continues to build for its core demographic of women, with some updates. The app, which requires women to send the first message, surveyed 5,000 Americans earlier this year about their attitudes toward empowerment, dating, sex, and more.

In survey results shared exclusively with Fortune, men and women exhibited comparable attitudes toward gender equality in the early stages of dating: 88% of women and 89% of men agreed that it’s “acceptable” for women to make the first move in dating. Men and women exhibited a greater gap in attitudes toward family life. Sixty percent of men said they think they should be the ones who manage household finances while only 39% of women thought men should hold that responsibility.

Charley Webb, the company’s chief customer officer, is tasked with turning these insights into product and business updates. Bumble conducted versions of this survey around the world. In answers to another question, Bumble found varying responses in how women feel about their careers; in India, career was women’s first priority and in Mexico their fourth—but in both markets, it was higher than for women in the U.S. “This helps us level set and better understand our members and market variation,” Webb explains.

Although Bumble is tight-lipped about new product features that are influenced by these findings, Webb says the research has helped the company “hone in on key areas” to address. Gender gaps in survey responses are relevant as the app determines “compatibility and discoverability” for its users as they match with others on the platform. “It might inform everything from how we display different people’s profiles, to how we highlight different aspects of people’s profiles to the actual matching process itself and how we look at the algorithm behind the matching process,” Webb says.

Understanding the social, political, and family issues that are on users’ minds helps Bumble build for those realities, she adds.

Even Bumble’s core proposition—that women make the first move—is getting an update. The app introduced more gender identification options in June, but users who selected the nonbinary option were frustrated they couldn’t send the first message to users who identify as women. The app later updated the feature so that nonbinary users can make the first move in all pairings.

“We’re seeing how we can do more to support women’s needs when it comes to dating and dating apps,” Webb says.

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

Broadsheet will be taking Monday off in observance of Labor Day, but will return to your inboxes on Tuesday.

The Broadsheet is Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Today’s edition was curated by Paige McGlauflin. Subscribe here.

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Fair game. Workers are more likely to get fair pay from female managers than male managers, according to new research from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. While both male and female managers were found to take advantage of opportunities to boost their own earnings by paying lower wages, researchers found that female managers were less likely to be “selfish” than male managers and awarded 13% more pay on average. Bloomberg

- Money matters. Young people are investing more in companies that support reproductive health following the overturn of Roe v. Wade, according to the founders of Alinea, an investing app geared towards younger people. Founders Eve Halimi and Anam Lakhani noticed users were creating "playlists," or baskets of investments, of companies that support abortion access, including Levi’s, Apple, and Pfizer. New York Times

- Out of state. California lawmakers authorized an assistance fund on Wednesday that will help support people seeking abortions who are traveling from states with abortion bans or restrictions. State funds totaling $20 million will go to the pot with further supplementation from private donations. Lawmakers approved an additional $125 million in funding to help prepare for the influx of out-of-state patients. Bloomberg 

- Pantsuit problems. The fashion industry’s supply chain constraints have hit the fashion designer who dresses many of America’s most powerful female leaders. Nina McLemore, whose fans include Hillary Clinton, Janet Yellen, and former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, has had to change how her eponymous fashion label sources materials—and she doesn’t think a return to pre-pandemic operations will ever happen. Vogue Business

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Furnishings company Four Hands has hired Rosanna Godden as chief financial officer. Former Iron Mountain chief information officer Kim Anstett joins cybersecurity company Trellix as chief information officer. Marketing platform SOCi has hired Pam Perry as chief people officer.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Weather the Storm. It’s not easy being the CFO of a WNBA team, where the league has more control over team budgets than in other sports. But Tricia McLean, CFO of the Seattle Storm, has managed to steer the team to 250% revenue growth this year and boost online sales boost merchandise revenue from $150,000 to just under $500,000. McLean thinks the team’s fervent fanbase and strong spending on entertainment will keep growth strong, telling Fortune senior writer Sheryl Estrada that the team has “great momentum right now.” Fortune

- Career choices. Women who delay motherhood or forgo it entirely see better career advancement and greater wealth. Single women without children had an average wealth of $65,000 in 2019, compared to $57,000 for single men without children and just $7,000 for single mothers. Bloomberg

- A different intelligence. The pandemic has changed how we maintain relationships and find connections. Renowned psychotherapist and bestselling author Esther Perel wants to help people figure out how to better sustain relationships with these new norms. In her new MasterClass course released Thursday, Perel delves into building relational intelligence through self-awareness, handling miscommunication, and establishing boundaries. Fortune

ON MY RADAR

Lea Michele is well aware that the pressure is on New York Times

'Strong over skinny:' Women powerlifters ditch stigma around bulking up Washington Post

Ana de Armas never expected to play Marilyn Monroe. The opportunity changed her life Los Angeles Times

Who’s #ThatGirl? What happens when a TikTok trend takes over your life Wall Street Journal

PARTING WORDS

"To stay on tour would symbolize I was either defending or ignoring the harm caused ... and to leave would imply I was the judge and jury."

- Singer-songwriter Feist, announcing her departure from Arcade Fire’s European tour following allegations of sexual misconduct against frontman Win Butler. Butler has admitted to extramarital affairs but denied any nonconsensual interactions. 

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