Behind the Scenes at Digital Dating App Bumble

A person using the Bumble app

What do you do at Bumble? 

I oversee anything that could be described as storytelling — articles on our content hub (“The Buzz”), digital guides, open letters, and other external media. Our most popular type of content is “success stories,” which spotlight relationships that began on Bumble. Many of our users have wonderful stories to report, whether they’ve found a husband, wife, partner, or friend on the app, or even had a “Bumble baby.” We also create content about topics such as consent in digital intimacy and how to know if you’re being “catfished.” 

How is Bumble different from other dating apps?

When there’s a heterosexual match, women have to send the first message. Our founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, envisioned Bumble as the digital version of a Sadie Hawkins dance when she started the company in 2014. 

Clare O'Connor, head of editorial content at Bumble
Clare O'Connor

Does Bumble help people make connections outside of dating?

Yes. A year or two after Bumble’s launch, we noticed that some people were using the app to look for non-romantic relationships. Some wanted gym or yoga buddies. Others had business ideas and were looking for help with startups. So we launched two new modes: Bumble BFF for platonic-friend-finding and Bumble Bizz for careers and networking. Folks might get on Bumble BFF because they’re suddenly empty nesters and want to find new friends. Someone might use Bumble Bizz to look for a new board member for their company. 

Who is your target audience? 

Originally it was primarily women in their twenties. But now we serve anyone of any gender or orientation from eighteen through their eighties. With the breakdown of stigmas around finding a partner online, we’ve seen a major uptick in users. We recently saw a tweet from a young woman saying that her seventy-nine-year-old bubbe had found love on Bumble. A former homecoming king and queen from New Jersey re-met as middle-aged divorced people on the app. 

How have people used Bumble during the pandemic?

When the shutdowns started, we saw a nearly 70 percent increase in video calls. A year later, we have reason to believe that many users will continue to date virtually even after the pandemic ends, at least at the beginning of relationships. Video chats and voice calls are safe, easy ways to get to know your date before deciding whether to meet IRL. 

In fall 2020, we launched a comprehensive guide, “Dating 101 in 2021,” to help our community navigate dating during COVID. It includes resources and expert advice from epidemiologists, sexologists, therapists, and others on how to protect your mental health while dating virtually, how to navigate sex and intimacy through a screen, and other helpful tips on finding love in an unprecedented time. The past year has allowed for greater self-reflection and plenty of time to consider what exactly one wants in a relationship.


This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2021 print edition of Columbia Magazine with the title "Love at First Swipe."

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