Stolen secrets, dating apps, and whispers of betrayal. It sounds like the plot of a corporate soap opera made for the internet era: Tinder parent company Match Group is suing Bumble Trading Inc., claiming that Whitney Wolfe’s dating app company rips off Tinder’s intellectual property. That includes everything from the way the app matches users to its ability to swipe right or left on dating profiles. The suit also claims, Bumble released a couple of features that Wolfe and two Bumble executives “learned of and developed confidentially while at Tinder in violation of confidentiality agreements.”
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.”
Tinder and Bumble have a complicated history. Whitney Wolfe, Tinder’s original VP of Marketing and Communications, was engaged in a vicious legal battle with her former company over sexual harassment. Tinder ultimately settled with Wolfe for roughly $1 million. Wolfe went on to found Bumble, a dating app where women initiate the conversations and bullying and harassment are punished with dismissal.
The company has grown significantly since founding in 2014. Bumble has nearly 30 million users and is on track to earn $150 million in annual revenue. It’s also branched beyond dating to finding new friends and professional networks through Bumble BFF and BumbleBizz respectively.
“All I have to say is that I wish Match and their group nothing but the best and I look forward to building an empowering company with my team,” CEO and cofounder Wolfe told Fast Company.
Bumble is not the only dating app company that Match has sued. Back in 2016, subsidiary Tinder sued dating app 3nder for benefiting from a similar naming convention.