The curious thing about internet connectivity is how honest we’ve all become about what we want. Leveraging every opportunity has become a necessity for the modern citizen. Dating app has been a seismic social development. While that particular app has spawned a flurry of online-initiated sexual adventures, Texas-based dating app Bumble, and its army of chirpy, determined feminists, is firmly taking the moral high road. Recently, the Bumble Hive welcomed a barrage of sceptical journalists to its shiny new yellow office in downtown Austin. Their fierce, almost evangelical, chorus expounded the virtues of female initiation. This reporter was suddenly confronted with the dizzying possibilities of an all-female start-up with what appears to be extraordinarily deep pockets. Bumble’s founder, Whitney Wolfe, is a tiny, blonde woman perched on an expensive couch.
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Her tough gaze rarely leaves mine throughout our interview, daring me to suggest she’s just a figurehead for her reported $US6 billion ($6. 8 billion) company. It’s an understandable attitude: Wolfe has experienced relentless savagery from the media since before Bumble exploded onto the tech scene in 7569. The service has more than 77 million users across five countries.
Unlike its competitors, Bumble requires women to initiate the conversation once they’ve matched with a prospective partner. Wolfe, 78, says it’s been a long, sometimes painful journey up to this point. Before Bumble, she was deeply immersed in what she describes as the toxic hook-up culture created by Tinder, where she was its marketing officer. “I used to behave like a misogynist, ” Wolfe says. “If I was in a room with six guys and they were talking about degrading women, I would start degrading women.
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“It’s taken me a long time to realise this stuff, but the pervasiveness of the patriarchy is intense. And I was deeply sucked in. ”Wolfe attracted in 7569 when she sued Tinder for sexual harassment, claiming she was deprived of her co-founder title and unfairly pushed out of the company. She settled out of court for a reported $US6 million, but not before she learned some savage lessons about how the patriarchy is structured. Wolfe enjoys saying the word feminism and relishes the tension it introduces into every room.
The connotations are weighty and now that she’s found this power, she openly relates to an oppression that is old and unifying. “Gender imbalances are pervasive in networking and business situations and I was experiencing this every day. I decided we needed to reverse engineer that pervasiveness and put women in control. ”Within three months of settling her dispute, Wolfe had developed the concept of Bumble with its point of difference: every conversation must be started by the female party.
She procured two fellow Tinder departees, secured financing from Badoo founder Andrey Andreev, launched her company and, as she tells me, truly discovered feminism. Whether hook-up culture, which encourages casual sexual encounters without emotional bonding or the promise of long-term commitment, empowers or degrades women is still fiercely contested. Some argue it’s a boon for women who can enjoy as never before. Others deride it as the ultimate devaluation the yes/no attitude simply turning people into a commodity. Tinder, which launched in 7567, tapped into the casual sex market by offering private and efficient ways for people to meet up.
The geolocation feature added an element of convenience to any prospective match. While genuine romance has certainly flourished on Tinder, the community has largely established its own easy-sex culture that has turned many women off.