Insiders reveal how celebrities are responding to recent dating app profile leaks

Ben Affleck (left) and Matthew Perry (right)
Ben Affleck and Matthew Perry (are two celebrities whose purported interactions were leaked online by people they matched with on dating apps.

  • Videos that appeared to show Matthew Perry and Ben Affleck matching with dating app users recently went viral.
  • Dating apps and celebrity advisors are dealing with increased concern over privacy and security.
  • Insider spoke to experts, celebrities, and influencers who explained how online dating is changing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A string of videos that appear to show celebrities like Ben Affleck and Matthew Perry connecting with dating app users are sending chills through both the entertainment and dating app industries.

Since its launch in 2015, invite-only dating app Raya has advertised itself as an elite platform catering to the needs of celebrities. But in early May 2021, Nivine Jay, an actor and model, posted an explosive TikTok of a video purportedly sent to her by Ben Affleck after she says she unmatched with the actor on Raya. A few days later, Kate Haralson, a TikToker who is a personal assistant for reality TV stars Spencer and Heidi Pratt, similarly went viral by uploading a purported recording of a FaceTime session she said she had with Matthew Perry after matching with him on Raya in May 2020.

These incidents haven’t just happened on Raya. In early June, Twitter user @Stardewlegend posted purported screenshots of “iCarly” actor Jerry Taylor’s verified Bumble profile along with a tweet, “I did not expect dating in LA to be like this.”

These videos have made headlines and received millions of views on social media, shattering any assumption of privacy on dating apps. As dating apps adjust to the reality of leaking, the features and innovations they implement may have a broader impact not only on their most high-profile users, but also everyday people looking for the perfect match.

Insider talked to publicists, dating apps, matchmakers, and influencers to explore how these recent exposures could transform online dating.

Celebrity insiders and experts are more involved in their clients’ dating lives than they may seem

Kelly Cutrone standing with microphone
Publicist Kelly Cutrone.

Kelly Cutrone, the founder of People’s Revolution, a public relations agency, told Insider that celebrities using dating apps is a “bat—- crazy idea.” She said that publicists should generally stay out of their clients’ love lives, but that by using dating apps, celebrities were not just opening themselves up to potentially embarrassing scandals, but they were also making themselves vulnerable to people with bad intentions.

Don Aviv, the president of Interfor International, a security consulting service that works with celebrities, echoed Cultrone’s stance and said he advises high-profile people to avoid these apps altogether. He cited concerns over hacks, fraud, and scams, and argued that regardless of how the app advertises itself, online platforms come with too many risks.

Other experts signaled that they were adjusting to stars seeking love in the digital realm. Howard Bragman, a Hollywood crisis manager, told Insider he believes celebrities are drawn to these platforms because they offer the chance to meet people outside of the entertainment industry. Since stars can’t go to bars and nightclubs anonymously like civilians, they may relish the opportunity to find someone from the comfort of their home, he said.

“Celebrities are actual human beings who have feelings and would like to go out on dates and meet a loved one, so I don’t see any reason they should be denied that,” he said.

Bragman said his celebrity clients have told him about their dating app usage, so he’s prepared for the media fallout in the event of a leak. Matt Yanofsky, a PR and brand specialist, told Insider that in the past, he and other publicists have assisted with curating clients’ dating app profile pictures and interests and that in numerous cases, it’s become an extension of their job of managing a client’s public image.

Influencers and celebrities are moving away from dating apps and using social media to meet people instead

Some influencers have found ways to navigate public-facing apps. Kazzy, a YouTuber with almost 470,000 subscribers, told Insider he refuses to give out his phone number and personal address.

Similarly, Gwen Singer, an Instagram influencer, told Insider that on Bumble and Hinge she goes by an entirely different name, doesn’t link to her social media, and uses non-model photographs because of privacy concerns and to see if she can find a genuine connection without the anxiety that people are treating her differently.

A post shared by GWEN ⚡️ (@gwensinger)

“Let’s see if you’re really interested in talking to me and getting to know who I am,” she said.

Others are moving away from traditional dating apps entirely.

Comedian Ashwin Jacob said he used to prefer Raya when it was more “curated,” but that now, with more chats about networking and fears of being secretly recorded, Instagram is becoming the preferred dating app for many of his influencer friends.

TikToker Gene Park, who has over 460,000 followers, echoed Jacob’s sentiment that Raya has started to lose its allure. He said that for many influencers, Instagram’s direct messaging platform works as a dating app, although he’s dealt with catfishing and scamming attempts on it “multiple times.” He said he hoped ther was “another Raya that comes out soon, that is a lot more exclusive,” with a better filtering process.

According to reporting from The New York Times, in 2018 Raya had an 8% acceptance rate and there were 100,000 people still on the waiting list.

Raya did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Security concerns on apps are changing the face of online dating

Regarding celebrities’ concerns over privacy, a Bumble spokesperson highlighted the app’s Incognito Mode. Included in Bumble Premium, a subscription service that comes with a myriad of features and costs $32.99 a month, Incognito Mode allows users to only be visible to other users whom they swiped right on.

While this may make the app feel more exclusive and curated, it doesn’t account for user behavior and hypothetically, Incognito matches are able to leak celebrity profiles to social media under the company’s current privacy policy.

Some apps are trying to solve this problem. Founded in late 2020, Lox Club, a members-only dating platform for Jewish people, has drawn some buzz and celebrity investors like Bhad Bhabie and Lil Yachty.

According to co-founder Alex Lorraine, there are “around 50,000 people” on the app’s waitlist. He cited his Lox Club’s security measures, such as suspending users who screenshot too many times, and making it easy for people to contact his app to report abusive behavior. Lorraine told Insider there haven’t been instances of leaks and believes that is thanks to the Lox Club’s highly selective curation process which maintains its culture of privacy.

“If you curate your community from the start, you get people that aren’t as willing to leak celebrity profiles,” he said.

Lizz Warner, the founder and CEO of Gleam, a video-chat dating app that is currently only available in Los Angeles and New York City, told Insider that she had discussed the possibility of celebrity leaks with her team of developers. On Gleam, users can only communicate via scheduled video chat dates that solely exist within the app, and later, if there’s compatibility, texts.

According to Warner, since the video chats live on the app and automatically turn off if someone starts a screen recording, it can potentially be helpful for celebrities who are concerned with privacy. She told Insider that in Los Angeles, a number of influencers have already joined.

Haralson, who leaked the purported video of Matthew Perry, said that while some people accused her of being the catalyst for Perry’s split with his then-fiance, which she refutes, others responded positively, telling her she was highlighting the dating dynamic of how “easy it is for young girls to be wooed by these older men with money.”

Multiple sources told Insider that they noticed that celebrities became more drawn to dating apps during the COVID-19 lockdown. As restrictions are lifted, dating will potentially go back offline, with people returning to mingling in dimly lit bars and parties. But these concerns of safety and privacy will surely persist, leaving an opening for the next crop of members-only apps to continue to sell the elusive promise of digital exclusivity.

To read more stories like this, check out Insider’s digital culture coverage here.

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Bumble is opening an Italian restaurant in NYC this month – see inside what the dating app is billing as a ‘safe space’ for relationships

A rendering of the exterior of Bumble Brew with tables and chairs both outside and inside the yellow storefront
A rendering of Bumble Brew.

  • Dating app Bumble has teamed up with a New York City restaurant to create the Bumble Brew Cafe and Wine Bar.
  • Bumble Brew will serve an “Italian-inspired” breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • The restaurant was designed for patrons to connect with “friends, a potential partner, or a new business connection.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Dating app Bumble – the one where women must message first – is teaming up with Pasquale Jones, a New York City restaurant, to create the Bumble Brew Cafe and Wine Bar.

A rendering of the Bumble Brew's bar with coffee, drinks, and seating
A rendering of Bumble Brew’s bar with the Bumble logo.

By day, it’ll be a cafe and breakfast spot. But by night, the space will transform into a wine bar and restaurant with offerings like dry-aged beef tartare, octopus, and cacio e pepe raviolo.

Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice on a plate with other plates of food in the background.
Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice.

The cafe, restaurant, and wine bar combo will open July 24 in the Nolita neighborhood of New York City, right next to Pasqaule Jones, an Italian hotspot overseen by Delicious Hospitality Group.

A rendering of the exterior of Bumble Brew with tables and chairs both outside and inside the yellow storefront
A rendering of Bumble Brew.

“We’ve always designed our restaurants so that people can connect over delicious food and drinks in a fun and energetic environment, so our mission aligned perfectly with Bumble,” Ryan Hardy, Delicious Hospitality Group’s CEO and executive chef, said in the press release.

Chef Hardy in the kitchen with another person.
Chef Hardy.

Bumble Brew was inspired by the company’s Hive pop-ups, which bring the app and its dating, friend-making, and networking options to life. But unlike the pop-ups, this will be Bumble’s first storefront.

A hand holding a pastry with a newspaper, book, and iPhone showing the Bumble app off to the side.
A pastry and the Bumble app.

The 3,760-square-foot establishment will have room for 80 people in its dining room, bar, patio, and private dining section, all of which were designed by New York-based Float Design Studio.

A rendering of the interior Bumble Brew lounge with more tables and chairs and a view of the street outside
A rendering of the Bumble Brew lounge.

The space can even be used to house events.

A person eating a plate of chitarra nero, crab, and Japanese mint with a glass of white wine next to them.
Chitarra nero, crab, and Japanese mint.

The Bumble Brew space is striving for a “fun, upbeat” environment …

A rendering of the exterior of Bumble Brew with tables and chairs both outside and inside the yellow storefront
A rendering of Bumble Brew.

… and most of the music will be from women artists in different genres (it is Bumble, after all).

Various plates of food from an overhead view.
A collection of the food.

And what better way to create a jovial environment than with wine.

A rendering of the Bumble Brew's bar with coffee, drinks, and seating
A rendering of Bumble Brew’s bar.

“We hope that people can gather at Bumble Brew and connect over an espresso or delicious meal, whether it’s with friends, a potential partner, or a new business connection,” Julia Smith, Bumble’s head of brand partnerships, said in the press release.

A person eating a plate of charcoal grilled steak, spring onions, and romesco verde.
Charcoal grilled steak, spring onions, and romesco verde.

Similar to its neighbor, Bumble Brew’s menu – created by Hardy and the Pasquale Jones crew – will be “Italian-inspired,” according to the press release.

A plate of mushrooms, charred green tomatoes, chile, and lime.
Mushrooms, charred green tomatoes, chile, and lime.

This translates to pastas, vegetables, a bar-specific menu, and food to share.

Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice.
Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice.

The breakfast menu includes items like croissants and ricotta with bee pollen, plums, and hazelnuts.

A hand holding a baked good over a plate next to coffee and sugar.
The breakfast pastries.

Meanwhile, lunch (which will be available beginning July 31) has options like beef tartare with black garlic and crispies, brown butter asparagus with black truffle and Parmigiano …

Dry aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice on a plate.
Dry-aged beef tartare, crispy garlic, and rice.

… and smoked eggplant with hot chile, yogurt, and mint.

a bowl with smoked eggplant, hot chile, yogurt, and mint with a slice of toast
Smoked eggplant, hot chile, yogurt, and mint with a slice of toast.

Several of the lunch and dinner items overlap, including the asparagus, beef tartare, and eggplant. Along with this, the dinner menu will also have hits like pastas, steak, and octopus. However, it should be noted that dinner service won’t begin until August 7.

Someone plating casoncelli stuffed with mortadela, parmigiano, and pancetta.
Casoncelli stuffed with mortadella, parmigiano, and pancetta.

All of these plates will cost, on average, $20, Kate Krader reported for Bloomberg.

Various plates of food from an overhead view.
A collection of the food.

Source: Bloomberg

Food pickup will also be available through Caviar, a food ordering and delivery platform.

Someone plating casoncelli stuffed with mortadela, parmigiano, and pancetta.
Casoncelli stuffed with mortadella, parmigiano, and pancetta.

At first, the Bumble Brew concept had planned to serve “date-friendly” meals that wouldn’t have foods “that would be awkward on a first date,” Caroline Ellis Roche, Bumble’s chief of staff, said in 2019.

A plate of cucumbers, dill, and smoked wild trout
Cucumbers, dill, and smoked wild trout.

Source: Bloomberg

But that approach has since shifted. And now, the eatery will be a “safe space for healthy and equitable relationships and connection,” Smith told Bloomberg.

A close up of Chef Hardy in the kitchen.
Chef Hardy.

Source: Bloomberg

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Bumble closed all its offices for a week to help staff with their ‘collective burnout’

whitney wolfe herd bumble ceo founder
Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd.

  • Employees of the dating app are getting a paid week off.
  • The company said its offices closed this week to help staff deal with pandemic-related stress.
  • The company’s head of editorial content cited “collective burnout” in a now-deleted tweet.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bumble said it was closing all of its offices this week to help staff deal with burnout.

A spokeswoman for the female-led dating app confirmed the weeklong break to Sky News after Clare O’Connor, the company’s head of editorial content, said in a now-deleted tweet that the company’s around 700 staff were getting a paid week off.

O’Connor said the company’s CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, had “correctly intuited our collective burnout.”

It is not clear why O’Connor’s tweet has been deleted.

The spokeswoman told Sky News: “Like everyone, our global team has had a very challenging time during the pandemic.

“As vaccination rates have increased and restriction have begun to ease, we wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week.”

Employees will be back at work on June 28, Sky News reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Dating apps Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge will offer users free ‘Super Likes’ and ‘Superswipes’ to encourage them to get vaccinated

Whitney Wolfe Herd
Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd will offer UK users free perks if they say they’re vaccinated.

  • Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble have said they will give perks to users who show they’re vaccinated.
  • Nine dating apps have teamed up with the UK government to encourage their users to get the jab.
  • The vaccinated will get access to free features to help them stand out to potential matches.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Dating apps have formed an unlikely partnership: Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble are among the nine apps that have teamed up with the UK government to encourage their users to get vaccinated.

British app users will be able to add their vaccination status to their profiles, and will receive perks for doing so, according to a government press release published Monday.

The scheme is based on trust as there is no way of verifying users’ vaccine status, according to the BBC.

Tinder users will get a free “Super Like” – a feature allowing users to stand out on the platform – if they display the sticker. Relationship-focused app Hinge will give users a free “Rose” which puts their profiles to the top of a potential match’s feed.

Bumble will also give users discounts on premium features such as “Superswipes” if they add a “vaccinated” badge to the profile. Users will be able to share their COVID-19 dating preferences, such as whether they prefer to spend time indoors or outdoors, the press release said.

Dating platforms Badoo, Match, Muzmatch, OkCupid, OurTime, and Plenty of Fish have also joined the scheme. The partnership follows a similar campaign launched in the US last month.

“An important part of returning to normal is helping people feel safe as they connect in person,” Alexandre Lubot, CEO of Match Group said in a statement. “A unified push towards more vaccinations will allow people to once again meet in person and connect in meaningful ways.”

So far, just over 76% of UK adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 52% fully vaccinated, according to the latest government data.

A total of 31% of UK adults have said they would prefer to date someone who had received the jab, and 28% said they would not date an unvaccinated person, according to a YouGov poll in May.

OKCupid previously told Insider that its users who said they were willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine were more likely to receive “likes” from other users who said they would avoid the jab.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What is Bumble Bizz? How to use the dating app’s professional networking mode to make new connections

woman holding using phone tv movie at home
Bumble Bizz is like a dating app – but for professional connections, not dates.

  • Bumble Bizz is a separate section of the dating app that focuses on making professional connections.
  • Bumble Bizz works exactly the same as the Date section, but you show off your work experience and professional goals.
  • Just like the rest of the app, men can’t message women first – women make the first move.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The advent of dating apps like Tinder and Bumble changed the dating game, introducing phrases like “swipe right” and “swipe left” into our lexicon and bringing the idea of speed dating to a new generation.

Later on, Bumble users asked the company for a service to help make friends instead of lovers – and in 2016 they got Bumble BFF, which allowed users to have two separate profiles for dating and friendship.

Since then, Bumble added another way to help people connect with one another in the digital age: Bumble Bizz.

What to know about Bumble Bizz

When you open up Bumble, you can decide what you’re swiping to find that day – if you go with your dating profile, you’ll be swiping for dates and potential partners. If you switch to Bumble BFF mode, which contains an entirely different version of your profile, you’ll be swiping to look for a new friend.

If you choose Bumble Bizz mode, you swap to yet another public profile – this one containing information about your work experience, education, professional goals, and passions. When you look through your swipe deck on this version of the app, you’re not looking for a partner or a friend – you’re networking.

Bumble Bizz lets you swipe through the names of professionals in your indicated industries and make connections with potential employers, experts in your field, recruiters, and fellow professionals.

Bumble Bizz
Bumble Bizz puts your professional qualifications first.

The advantages of Bumble Bizz

Some people may hear about this new feature and wonder how it sets itself apart from other networking sites like LinkedIn. The benefit of Bumble is that it encourages connecting with new people, not just people you already work with.

On sites like LinkedIn, you’re often reliant on adding people you meet in real life to help you establish connections. Other than that, you can fill out your profile to the best of your ability and hope you get contacted by someone looking for a worker like you, but making those new connections isn’t the site’s primary function.

Bumble Bizz was created to help people form new connections – an ability that’s been severely impacted by the pandemic, disproportionately affecting young professionals who are too new to have large networks.

That’s not the only thing that sets Bumble Bizz apart, either. The central tenet behind Bumble is that it’s an app where women have to message men first, rather than the other way around.

Seeing how well this feature worked in the dating arena, Bumble decided to keep it when creating Bumble Bizz – in any male-female match, the woman always has to be the one to message first. In any same-sex pairing, the opportunity to speak first goes to whoever was the second person to swipe right.

Bumble hopes that this will cut down some of the sexual harassment that some women have reported on sites like LinkedIn.

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What is Bumble Boost? How to use the dating app’s paid features to get more matches

Bumble App on logo backround
A Bumble logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

  • Bumble Boost is a paid subscription offered by Bumble that gives unlimited swiping, swipe undos, and more.
  • If you’re willing to pay more, you can also get Bumble Premium, which gives even more features.
  • Bumble Boost is only available to iOS users worldwide, and Android users in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

A lot has changed since the early days of dating apps. New apps and features have arrived, giving people more options to help find their best match.

One of these apps is Bumble, which has become known in many circles as more of a true dating app – Tinder is often more associated with hookups – in large part because there’s a more even male-to-female ratio among its users, among dozens of other self-identifications.

In fact, Bumble has become so popular that it’s testing out new premium services. Bumble Boost is getting revamped to include even more features, and they’re also adding a higher tier, Bumble Premium.

What to know about Bumble Boost

Bumble Boost is the less expensive of the two paid options – in other words, sort of like halfway between Bumble and Bumble Premium. You don’t get some of the more exclusive features, but you get most of the important ones, and for a lot less.

Bumble Boost varies in cost, depending on how long you sign up for it. You can subscribe on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, in addition to three- and six-month subscriptions. Boost’s cost may change as Bumble continues to test its paid features, but you’re often getting a larger discount for longer subscriptions.

What is Bumble? How the dating app differs from its competition, and what it offers womenHow does Bumble work for men? Here’s how Bumble chats differ for men, women, and non-binary usersWhat is Tinder? Here’s what you should know about the popular dating appHow to block someone on the Tinder app by unmatching from them

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What is Bumble? How the dating app differs from its competition, and what it offers women

Bumble dating app
Bumble is mostly known as a dating app where women make the first move, but it also connects friends and expands professional networks.

  • Bumble is a dating app that works a lot like Tinder — if both people swipe right, it’s a match.
  • The biggest difference is that in heterosexual pairings, women have to be the first one to send a message.
  • Bumble also allows you to search for friends and business connections, rather than just dates.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Bumble is a dating app that was launched in 2014 by a former Tinder executive. Like Tinder, Bumble uses a swipe right/swipe left model to let users sort through and match with potential partners.

While the app’s approach is conventional enough that it will feel familiar to users of other dating apps, Bumble has a few unique features. For example, if a man and woman both “swipe right” on each other’s profiles, only the woman can send the first message. 

How Bumble differs from other dating apps

Not only does Bumble (iOS, Android) differ from many dating apps by putting women in the driver’s seat – this is to reduce the volume of toxic and unwanted messages from men that many women face on dating apps – but the app supports a diverse range of orientations. 

While various dating apps specialize in heterosexual or non-hetero relationships, Bumble supports them all. When creating a relationship, you get to specify both your gender – man, woman, non-binary, or literally dozens of other self-identifications – as well as which gender you’re interested in finding. 

What is Bumble 1
Bumble allows users to choose how they identify and to pick what gender they’re looking for in a match.

Bumble also has several modes: You can choose dating, BFF (for finding platonic friends), and Bizz (for career networking). 

What is Bumble 2
Bumble aspires to be more than just a dating site.

How Bumble works

To create a Bumble account, you’re required to be at least 18 years of age. To get started, you can sign in with your Apple or Facebook credentials or use your mobile phone number.

 

After uploading at least one photo and creating a profile, you can swipe right to indicate interest in another person. If that person also swipes right in a heterosexual pairing, the woman must make the first move.

If she doesn’t, the match expires after 24 hours, though users are given a limited option of extending a match for an additional 24 hours. (For same-sex matches, either person may start the conversation.)

What_is_Bumble 3
Like many dating apps, you swipe right to make a match.

If you prefer, you can also access Bumble on the web, as well as using the mobile app. 

What is Tinder? Here’s what you should know about the popular dating appHere’s what you need to know about Hinge’s new ‘Roses’ feature that’s meant to help you stand out on the dating appHow to connect your Spotify account to your Tinder profile to display your music tasteHow to permanently delete your Facebook Dating profile, or ‘take a break’ from it

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Why getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the hottest trend on dating apps

business woman looking at phone in office
Tinder said it has seen a 258% increase in profile mentions of vaccines between September and December.

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is now a dating app “deal breaker.”
  • Forty per cent of OKCupid users would cancel a date with someone who wouldn’t get a shot.
  • Dating apps do not routinely verify whether someone has been immunized or not.

Getting a coronavirus vaccine is the hottest thing right now. At least, that’s the impression you might get from dating apps, where people are mentioning they’ve got their shot as a way to meet likeminded people. 

“We have seen a 137% increase in mentions of “vaccine” on our profiles [globally] between November and January,” Michael Kaye, a spokesperson from dating app OKCupid, told Insider. 

Tinder said it has seen a 258% increase in profile mentions of vaccines between September and December, Tyla reported. 

Bumble, another dating app, told Insider it had seen an increase in the number of people with the word “vaccine” or “vaccinated” in their Bumble profiles but did not elaborate. Grindr, an online dating app for gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, told Insider it did not collect data about COVID-19 vaccines. 

“Not only is the vaccine becoming the biggest talking point on dating apps, it’s actually becoming a huge deal-breaker,” Kaye added.

Sarah Kelly, a journalist who hadn’t had a COVID-19 vaccine yet, tweeted January 31 that a man wrote to her on a dating app: “Ur real cool however I found someone who is also Vaccinated!!”

 

OKCupid includes a set of “matching questions” that users can voluntarily answer. The questions ask whether they would get vaccinated and whether they would cancel a date if a match wouldn’t get a shot. This then appears on their profile for potential suitors to see. The questions have been answered more than 17 millions times.

OkCupid Cancel Date
OKCupid “matching questions”

Kaye said people who answered that they would get a COVID-19 shot got more “likes” than those who said no. He said 40% of Millennial and Gen Z-aged OKCupid users would cancel a date with someone who wouldn’t take a vaccine. The figure was 18% higher for women compared with men. Most OKCupid daters are straight, but LGBTQ + people use the platform too. 

So far, more than 212 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across 90 countries, according to Johns Hopkins University. Most countries have prioritized those at highest risk of severe COVID-19 disease, namely older people who are less likely to be using OKCupid, Tinder, or Bumble. But key workers like health professionals and those with certain medical conditions have also been top of the priority list in some countries. 

Some younger people in the US have been able to get a shot by queuing up outside pharmacies for leftover doses. Vaccine trial participants are another group of younger people who have been able to get a shot before others.

‘Fraught with dangers’

Dr. Nilufar Ahmed, a lecturer in Social Sciences at the University of Bristol, told Insider in a statement that the area was “fraught with dangers.” Meeting someone who was vaccinated does not reduce the risk of catching coronavirus or stop you from passing it on, she said.  

Dr. Veronica Lamarche, a relationships expert from the Department of Psychology at the University of Exeter, didn’t think that it would necessarily open the “floodgates” for risky behavior, because often people who were conscientious enough to engage in protective health practices, were also more likely to be conscientious in other ways too.

“It will probably increase the likelihood that people feel safe to interact with other people because they’ve been vaccinated,” she said. “And then it’s really a question of vaccine efficacy at that point, whether or not it’s increasing their risks.”

‘Health disclosure nightmare’

Dating apps do not routinely verify whether someone has been immunized or not. In the US, dating apps would not be HIPAA-compliant if they shared health information. 

Lamarche said daters could lie about their immunization status, and people might engage in dates that aren’t as safe as they expected. But she said that if health-based questions were compulsory and apps had to verify the details, you would get into a “health disclosure nightmare”.

“I think that is something that goes beyond just the simple question of the pandemic and something that needs to be considered in terms of the morality behind being forced to disclose these different types of health information,” she said.

Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor at Warwick University, told Insider that what it means to be “vaccinated” was unclear, and including all the relevant information in a short bio on a dating profile could be a challenge.

“There’s a whole issue about how many doses of the vaccine you get, because you do need two doses for most of these vaccines,” he said. 

Young said that for him it was “a slippery slope.”

“Clearly people are at liberty to declare anything they wish to declare. But I do wonder about where you draw the line,” he said.  “Do they say actually I’ve had a papilloma virus vaccine for instance, because that’s linked with cervical cancer and head and neck cancer.”

“Are you going to start mentioning other aspects of your health?” Young added. “Do you need to start doing DNA tests to see if you’re at increased susceptibility to various diseases?

‘Winning the war on the virus’

“I guess from a public health perspective, dating apps could help win the war on the virus, because people will go: if I want to date somebody, then I better be vaccinated,” Ivo Vlaev, professor of behavioural science at Warwick Business School, told Insider. 

Young said most young people usually don’t get severe disease, but could end up with long-term complications of COVID-19 if they catch coronavirus, so it was important to protect as many people as possible with vaccinations.

Vlaev said all policy decisions impact our private lives. “The more governments and other organizations require vaccination status, the more we are going to require from each other,” he said. 

“There aren’t any hard or written rules about how to date. So I think it’s interesting that we’re seeing that people put this information on their profile and that’s a way of signaling what the social norm is,” Lamarche said.  

Kaye said a really positive impact of the pandemic was that people are talking more about important sexual health issues on their dating profiles, for example, whether they had been tested for sexually transmitted infections.

Lamarche said it could backfire, though, if some people say publicly that they haven’t been vaccinated or won’t get immunized. 

“This could start to set a different set of norms and expectations, and disagreement on what is typical or what you should be doing if you want to get a partner,” Larmarche said. “You might see a counter-movement emerge.”

Lamarche said she generally thought it was probably a positive trend, especially to motivate younger groups who might feel disincentivized to get vaccines if they feel that COVID-19 is less of a factor in their lives.

“By and large, the benefits probably outweigh the negatives,” she said.

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Bumble climbs 9% following its 64% post-IPO rally

Bumble IPO Nasdaq
Displays in Times Square outside the Nasdaq MarketSite are pictured as dating app operator Bumble Inc. (BMBL) made its debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange during the company’s IPO in New York City, New York, U.S., February 11, 2021.

  • Bumble climbed as much as 8.8% on Friday, extending the post-IPO pop that began the session prior.
  • The dating app raised $2.2 billion in a Wednesday IPO selling 50 million shares for $43 each.
  • Strong demand for the offering led shares to spike 64% into Thursday’s close.
  • Watch Bumble trade live here.

Bumble rose as much as 8.8% on Friday, extending gains after its massive post-IPO rally.

The dating app made its trading debut Thursday afternoon and quickly surged as investors rushed to the offering. Bumble stock gained as much as 85% at intraday highs and closed roughly 64% above the offering price of $43 a share.

The company raised $2.2 billion on Wednesday with its 50-million-share offering. Bumble’s offering price was upsized twice since filing for its IPO in January: once from its initial range of $28 to $30 a share, and again to $37 to $39 a share.

Bumble now trades on the Nasdaq with the ticker “BMBL.” It closed with a market cap of roughly $7.7 billion on Thursday.

Read more: Wall Street veteran Peter Kraus breaks down why investors should expect about a 10% to 15% market correction ahead – and shares his thoughts on the GameStop drama, SPAC mania, and bitcoin craze.

The company reported having about 42 million monthly active users across its dating apps as of September 30. About 2.4 million of those users paid for premium features such as Bumble Boost or Bumble Premium, according to a regulatory filing. Apart from the app of the same name, Bumble also owns Badoo, another location-based social discovery app.

CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told CNBC on Thursday that Bumble aims to convert more of its users to paying subscribers through investments in monetization features and new products. Wolfe Herd made history on Thursday by becoming the youngest female founder to take an American company public.

The market debut also brings a new option for investors looking to bet on online dating. Match Group – which owns Tinder, Hinge, Match, and other services – was previously the only major dating service to trade publicly. Match closed Thursday with a market cap of $45.8 billion.

Bumble closed at $70.31 on Thursday.

Read more: JP Morgan says 2021 is a ‘stockpickers’ paradise with big money-making opportunities’ – Here’s the firm’s 22 ‘highest conviction’ small-cap investment ideas

BMBL

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How Tinder and Hinge owner Match Group grew to have the country’s biggest monopoly on online dating – but let Bumble get away

match group explainer dating apps 2x1
  • Match Group owns Tinder, OkCupid, and every other big online dating site in the US — except Bumble. 
  • Bumble’s CEO, an ex-Tinder executive, sued Match Group’s parent company for discrimination in 2014.
  • Here’s how Match Group went from a failing dating site for Boomers to the country’s largest online dating conglomerate. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Online dating can be messy. The companies that run online dating can be messier.

Match Group, which started as one lonely Stanford Business School graduate’s attempt to build a less embarrassing way to find love online in the ’90s, has turned into a titan that owns nearly every US dating site.

College campus mainstay Tinder, serious relationship finder OkCupid, and Christian teen dating site Upward all belong to Match Group. Billionaire Barry Diller’s holding group IAC founded Match Group before it spun out the dating conglomerate last year.

Read more: The HR chief of a $10 billion holding company with brands like Vimeo and Care.com shares 3 crucial pieces of advice for recruiting new talent during the pandemic

Bumble, however, is conspicuously absent from Match’s portfolio. Bumble’s CEO, ex-Tinder executive Whitney Wolfe Herd, has a toxic history with the online dating group. 

Ahead of Bumble’s entrance into Nasdaq, here’s the decades-long history into how Match Group became the owner of practically every online dating space in the country.

Match Group was founded in February 2009 after the holding company IAC decided to bundle all dating sites it owned. IAC’s initial purchase of Match.com dates back to the 1990s.

gary kremen match.com founder
Match.com founder Gary Kremen walked away from Match.com with just $50,000.

Stanford Business School graduate Gary Kremen founded Match.com in 1995 to design a meeting place for older professionals looking for long-term relationships, SF Gate reported. 

But Kremen left Match.com in 1996 after butting heads with the firm’s investors. He walked away with just $50,000, Insider reported

Ticketmaster Inc., which had recently been bought out by USA Networks Inc. (later renamed IAC), bought Match.com in 1999 for $50 million. Cendant Corporation bought the matchmaking upstart a year earlier for $6 million, per SF Gate.

During the 2000s, IAC chairman Barry Diller turned Match.com into one of the most successful online dating companies in the US.

Jim Safka
Jim Safka.

Jim Safka, a former ETrade and AT&T executive, took over as Match.com CEO in 2004 after years of stalled growth

Match had grow its subscriber base by 10% just a few months after Safka joined, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2007, partially due to his emphasis on marketing to older demographics. Revenue increased 68% between 2003 and 2006, going from $185.3 million to $311.2 million, D Magazine reported.

During Safka’s leadership, Match became the one of best-performing companies in Diller’s portfolio, per D Magazine.

Barry Diller decided to form Match Group after breaking up IAC into five different companies in 2008.

Expedia chairman Barry Diller.
Expedia chairman Barry Diller.

Diller won a court battle to break up IAC into five companies: the Home Shopping Network; Ticketmaster; time-share company Interval; LendingTree; and IAC, which would include Match.com and Ask.com, per the NYT.

In February 2009, Match Group officially formed, as IAC set its sights on more dating platforms. 

Diller acquired some of the hottest online dating sites in the years following his decision to splinter off Match Group.

okcupid

IAC acquired People Media for $80 million in cash in July 2009, months after Match Group’s inception. Tech Crunch reported the deal included 27 targeted dating sites, including BlackPeopleMeet.com and SingleParentMeet.com, with a combined 255,000 subscribers. 

In 2011, IAC’s Match Group announced another blockbuster acquisition of OkCupid for $50 million. OkCupid differed from other dating sites at the time by skipping the subscription-model and offering services free of charge. OkCupid, geared toward younger people, raised $6 million in funding prior to its acquisition, per TechCrunch.

Today, Match Group’s portfolio of apps includes: 

  • Match, the company’s original app, which is available in 25 countries 
  • Tinder, which lets users swipe through potential matches 
  • Hinge, an app focused on finding relationships
  • POF (Plenty of Fish), one of the largest dating sites in Match’s portfolio and available in over 20 countries
  • OkCupid, which asks users multiple choice questions to determine compatibility 
  • OurTime, a dating app for singles over 50
  • Meetic, which serves European countries
  • Pairs, which serves Asian countries
  • Upward, a Christian dating app for Gen Z and millennials

According to data from mobile analyst firm Sensor Tower, as of 2014, Match Group’s portfolio of apps saw an estimated 56 million installs globally. In the first three quarters of 2020, Match Group reached 82 million installs worldwide, an increase of roughly 46%.

The road to attaining what is essentially a monopoly on dating hasn’t been smooth, and it began with the birth of Tinder.

tinder headquarters
Tinder Headquarters on the Sunset Strip on August 28, 2020 in West Hollywood, California.

Match Group owns a sizable stake in the multibillion-dollar dating app industry, Vox reported, with a report from Apptopia estimating the company has cornered about 60% of the dating app market with its suite of apps.

Match’s acquisition of Tinder fueled its online dating dominance. In 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported Tinder saw a 90% spike in average subscribers year-over-year. A year later, the company doubled its revenue to $805 million.

Match Group has evaded antitrust investigation due in part to lax oversight by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, Evan Gilbert wrote in the NYU Law Review in 2019.

Monopolies are also “hard to prove,” and the FTC may not view Match Group as a big threat, Christopher Sagers, a professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, told Yahoo Finance

In January 2012, Hatch Labs, a startup “sandbox” launched by IAC to incubate mobile apps, hired entrepreneur Sean Rad as general manager. During a Hatch Labs hackathon that February, Rad, who had been considering creating a dating product, worked with developer Joe Muñoz to create the prototype for Tinder.

Sean Rad
Tinder cofounder Sean Rad.

Jonathan Badeen and Chris Gulczynski were hired soon after to help with front-end and design, respectively. Whitney Wolfe Herd was hired by Hatch Labs in May of that year and Justin Mateen was brought in as a contractor. The app was originally called Match Box.

By August 2012, what had been renamed “Tinder” launched on Apple’s App Store. In a few months, Tinder had made a million matches, mainly as a result of marketing heavily to fraternities and sororities on college campuses.

By April 2013, Tinder officially incorporated, with Rad, Badeen, and Mateen considered the company’s cofounders. Rad served as CEO. 

IAC later purchased another chunk of Tinder for a reported $50 million from early Facebook employee and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.

In 2014, Wolfe Herd, then Tinder’s vice president of marketing, sued Tinder and IAC for sexual harassment and discrimination. Wolfe Herd alleged that Mateen, her former boyfriend, harassed her while she worked for the company.

Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe

Wolfe Herd alleged that she had held the title of Tinder cofounder, which was later revoked. She also claimed in her suit that Mateen verbally harassed her following their breakup, and that Rad and Match.com CEO Sam Yagan did nothing about. Eventually, Wolfe Herd resigned. 

After text messages between Wolfe Herd and Mateen were published as part of the suit, Mateen was suspended and ultimately resigned. In November 2014, the lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum, but reports from the time pegged it at “just over” $1 million

Rad also decided to step down in the wake of the scandal and so IAC could find a more experienced CEO. 

By 2015, Rad was back at the helm of Tinder, just as Match Group went public.

Match Group IPO
Greg Blatt, left, chairman of Match Group, and Sam Yagan, CEO of Match Group and cofounder and CEO of OkCupid, celebrate Match Group’s initial public offering at the NASDAQ stock exchange on November 20, 2015.

Match Group’s stock opened at $12 per share and the company raised roughly $400 million, on the low end of what it hoped to raise with the initial public offering. 

The IPO came shortly after a bizarre interview with Rad in which he discussed his sex life. The article also mentioned Tinder’s number of users, which Rad wasn’t authorized to discuss on the eve of the IPO. (A quiet period prior to an IPO bars executives from publicly discussing certain matters.)

Match Group had to file an update with the Securities and Exchange Commission to clear up any confusion about Rad’s interview. 

One year later, Rad became chairman of Tinder and Greg Blatt became Tinder’s CEO while simultaneously serving as CEO and chairman of Match Group. By 2017, Tinder had merged under the Match Group umbrella. 

In 2018, Rad and nine other Tinder employees sued IAC, claiming IAC purposely undervalued the startup. The lawsuit sought $2 billion in damages.

Rosette Pambakian
Rosette Pambakian, Tinder’s former vice president of marketing and communications.

The group, which included Badeen and Mateen, filed suit against both IAC and Match Group alleging that a lowball valuation was used to reduce the value of early employees’ and founders’ stock options. 

When IAC merged Tinder with Match Group in 2017, the suit argued, Tinder employees’ options in the rapidly growing app were “stripped away,” leaving them with options in Match instead, which was less valuable. 

The suit also argued that Blatt valued Tinder far lower than Tinder’s cofounders believed it to be worth. Additionally, Rosette Pambakian, Tinder’s vice president of marketing and communications, alleged that Blatt had groped her at a Tinder holiday party in 2016.

IAC sought to dismiss the suit, which a New York state appeals court rejected in 2019. IAC also counter-sued Rad for $400 million, alleging he had improperly recorded conversations with his superiors. 

Read more: Tinder and Match Group were a poor match from the beginning, according to the $2 billion lawsuit filed by the dating app’s founders

Starting in 2017, Match Group set its sights on another dating upstart: Hinge, an app focused on finding long-term connections.

In this undated photo provided by Hinge is a page from the dating app. Justin McLeod, who launched Hinge in 2011, thinks that dating apps should be focused on getting people offline. Hinge's tag line is "the app that's designed to be deleted." (Hinge via AP)
Hinge’s tagline is “the app that’s designed to be deleted.”

Match took a share in the app that September, and in June 2018, acquired a 51% stake in the company.

From Match’s initial investment to the following year, Hinge saw a 400% increase in users, particularly on the East Coast of the US. Hinge, which had been described as the “anti-Tinder,” removed the swipe feature from its app and shifted to more fleshed-out user profiles with a goal of helping users find relationships. 

Read more: The CEO of Hinge reveals the 3 biggest changes to online dating that could be here to stay after the pandemic

By December 2019, IAC announced it was spinning off its stake in Match Group. “We’ve long said IAC is the ‘anti-conglomerate’ – we’re not empire builders,” Barry Diller, IAC’s chairman, said in a statement at the time.

Barry Diller
IAC Chairman Barry Diller.

“We’ve always separated out our businesses as they’ve grown in scale and maturity and soon Match Group, as the seventh spin-off, will join an impressive group of IAC progeny collectively worth $58 billion today,” Diller told CNBC in a statement.

By July 2020, IAC and Match Group completed their separation. IAC said that given Match’s market capitalization, it was the largest company IAC has separated in its history. 

Match Group introduced four new board members, including actor Ryan Reynolds and Rupert Murdoch’s third wife, Wendi. 

Match Group CEO of 14 years, Mandy Ginsberg, stepped down a year later.

Mandy Ginsberg

Ginsberg said in a letter to employees she left for personal reasons, including undergoing a preventative double mastectomy and witnessing a tornado demolish her Dallas home.

Former Tinder COO Shar Dubey took over for Ginsberg, and became one of few women of color in chief executive roles at Fortune 500 firms.

Meanwhile, Wolfe Herd had been building a company of her own: Bumble, a dating app aiming to create a comfortable and empowering online dating space for women.

Bumble

Wolfe Herd was reluctant to build another dating app after her experience at Tinder, but Andrey Andreev, the cofounder of dating app Badoo, convinced her. Along with two former Tinder employees — cofounder Chris Gulzcynski and former vice president of design Sarah Mick — they launched Bumble in December 2014. 

Andreev made an initial investment of $10 million and became the majority owner with a 79% stake. Wolfe Herd became CEO with a 20% stake in Bumble, according to Forbes.

Bumble’s basic mechanisms worked like Tinder’s: Users could swipe right on someone they were interested in and swipe left on someone they weren’t, with one catch — only women had the ability to make contact first. 

Wolfe Herd told Insider in 2015 that she wanted the app to empower women and feel more modern overall. 

By the end of 2017, two years after launching, Bumble had amassed more than 22 million users. Match Group came calling.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and CEO of Bumble

According to a report from Forbes’ Clare O’Connor, Match Group offered $450 million for the startup sometime around June 2017, but Bumble rejected the offer.

The talks reportedly continued after that: in November of that year, both Forbes and TechCrunch reported that Match Group was still trying to buy Bumble at a $1 billion valuation. 

But the spurned acquisition offer was the beginning of a soured relationship between Match Group and Tinder. In 2018, the companies sued each other, launching a heated legal battle that lasted for over two years.

whitney wolfe herd 2018
Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2018.

In March 2018, Match Group filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Bumble, accusing the startup of copying Tinder’s technology, particularly its design and the process for matching users. The suit also alleged that Gulzcynski and Mick stole confidential information from Tinder.

A few weeks later, Bumble filed a $400 million lawsuit of its own, accusing Tinder of copying its core feature that required women to make the first move, which Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg had previously said Tinder was planning to introduce.  

Bumble claimed in its suit that Match Group used the acquisition talks to improperly obtain proprietary information about the company and used the lawsuit to make Bumble look less attractive to other potential buyers. 

The two companies reportedly tried, unsuccessfully, to settle. In September of that year, Bumble announced it was taking Match Group to court as well as preparing for an initial public offering. 

In June 2020, Match Group and Bumble announced that they had settled all litigation between them. Details of the settlement weren’t disclosed, but both companies said they were “pleased with the amicable resolution.”

But Bumble has remained Match Group’s biggest competitor and has become a multibillion-dollar behemoth in its own right.

Andrey Andreev whitney wolfe herd
Andreev and Wolfe Herd.

In late 2019, after reports of Badoo’s history of drug-fueled parties and sexist behavior, Badoo founder Andreev sold his entire stake in MagicLab, the umbrella company for Badoo and Bumble, to the Blackstone Group. The deal valued the company at $3 billion.

By July 2020, MagicLab was renamed Bumble and Wolfe Herd was named CEO of the whole company, overseeing 750 employees worldwide. Wolfe Herd has retained a 19% stake in the company.

In January 2021, Bumble filed to go public, revealing that it now has 42 million monthly users. Bloomberg reported that the company could seek a valuation of $6 billion to $8 billion

Now, as the pandemic continues to keep much of the world locked down, singles are flocking to dating apps, helping fuel the growth of both Bumble and Match Group’s suite of apps.

Woman texting mask

Match Group reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings last November, particularly when it came to Tinder: the company saw revenue growth and an increase in subscribers in the third quarter, despite the pandemic. 

“Tinder remains the highest grossing app in the Lifestyle category in ~100 countries and has grown direct revenue from essentially zero in 2014 to an expected nearly $1.4 billion this year,” the company wrote in its letter to shareholders. 

Match Group also reported in its third-quarter earnings that Hinge subscriptions were up 82% last year and revenue had grown more than 200% year-over-year.

For Bumble’s part, Wolfe Herd told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on the “Boss Files” podcast that there have been some advantages to dating app users during the pandemic.

“More genuine connections are forming out of this, and people are really, you know, being secure in who they’re meeting before that eventual physical meet-up ever begins,” Wolfe Herd said. 

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