Deal or No Deal: Bumble Fires Back at Tinder for ‘Bullying’

Over the past weekend, there were more than a handful of articles and reports about Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, suing Bumble for patent infringement and other IP-related claims. Along with the discussion of the case, the rumor of Match recently making a $450MM offer to acquire Bumble recirculated. While Match has made statements via the filed complaint and comments to the press, Bumble has been quiet. Until now.

In an article titled “Dating App Bumble Responds To Match Lawsuit With Biting Ad Campaign,” Fast Company [had] reported:

…The lawsuit comes amid reports that Match is actually trying to buy Bumble. The company reportedly offered $450 million for Bumble, according to TechCrunch, which the company declined. Last Friday, Recode quoted sources saying Match was still interested in acquiring Bumble.

Bumble is responding with a full-page ad in the New York Times, “We swipe left on your multiple attempts to buy us, copy us, and now, to intimidate us.” The ad goes onto say that Bumble isn’t afraid of aggressive corporate culture. “That’s what we call bullying, and we swipe left on bullies,” it says, noting the thousands of users the company has blocked for “bad behavior.”

The article addresses some of the history between the two companies and their respective apps, highlighting Bumble’s pro-women mission. However, such an advertisement in The NY Times makes quite the statement, especially considering Bumble’s last quotes about Tinder appeared to offer well-wishes concerning a new ladies-initiate-messages project. When TechCrunch asked, in February, “what Bumble thinks of Tinder’s move, CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd responded: ‘We applaud any company making business decisions that empower women.’”

According to CNN.tech, earlier in March, Whitney Wolfe Herd also spoke at SXSW festival, saying, “I don’t believe revenge is part of my agenda. I’m a firm believer that just like hate spreads hate, love and kindness spread love and kindness. We’re doing our own thing.”

The last big appearance of Bumble in The NY Times was an article regarding the banning of images of guns and firearms.

UPDATE 11pm: It appears Fast Company has removed the article. Google’s cache still has a copy here.

The most likely explanation would be that Bumble’s attorneys asked them to refrain from publicly commenting on the case and Fast Company was asked to pull the story for various reasons of potentially influencing preconceptions, but there certainly is room for speculation that both sides have begun discussions of settlement and/or acquisition.

UPDATE 3/20: Bumble has run the ads and released the full text of the statement.

Bumble Swipes Left on Match Group/Tinder Allegations | THEBEEHIVE.BUMBLE
“Dear Match Group,

We swipe left on you. We swipe left on your multiple attempts to buy us, copy us, and, now, to intimidate us.

We’ll never be yours. No matter the price tag, we’ll never compromise our values.

We swipe left on your attempted scare tactics, and on these endless games. We swipe left on your assumption that a baseless lawsuit would intimidate us. Given your enduring interest in our company, we expected you to know us a bit better by now.

We — a woman-founded, women-led company — aren’t scared of aggressive corporate culture. That’s what we call bullying, and we swipe left on bullies. Ask the thousands of users we’ve blocked from our platform for bad behavior…”

Bumble responds to Match’s patent lawsuit | TECHCRUNCH
Deal or no deal? “With sources close to the two companies telling TechCrunch that this is the first time Match has ever mentioned possible patent infringements by Bumble, it’s very possible that Match feels that discussions have stalled and this is their way of either forcing the deal forward or making Bumble an unattractive target for other bidders that may be scared off by this potential legal liability… The letter shows that Bumble essentially agrees with this analysis, as they openly call out the lawsuit as an intimidation tactic… While anything is possible (especially in the world of M&A), the letter also strongly suggests that as of now any chance of a deal between the two companies are seriously off the table, as Bumble says ‘we’ll never be yours, no matter the price tag.'”

Bumble called Tinder’s parent company a ‘bully,’ and promised it would never sell to them, ‘no matter the price tag’ | RECODE.NET
Is it personal or just business? “In an internal memo sent to Match Group employees on Monday, CEO Mandy Ginsberg said that the lawsuit was nothing personal… ‘I want to be clear about something: this is not about singling out any individual company, Ginsberg wrote. ‘This is about protecting the integrity of your work…Tuesday’s ad, which also appeared in the The Dallas Morning News (Bumble is headquartered in Austin), is the latest chapter in what has been a long saga between Bumble and Match Group.”