’ And wouldn’t it be nice if there was no way he would think you were desperate or weird if you did?A year after she was ousted from Tinder and nine months after she sued the company for sexual harassment, Wolfe is back with a dating app of her own, dubbed Bumble.“He can’t say you’re desperate, because the app made you do it,” she says, adding that she tells her friends to make the first move and just “blame Bumble.” Matches expire after 24 hours, which provides an incentive for women to reach out before it’s too late (the women-message-first feature is only designed for straight couples—if you’re LGBTQ, either party can send the first message.) Wolfe says she had always been comfortable making the first move, even though she felt the stigma around being too forward.
Interesting dating ideas
Last year she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company, alleging that Mateeen had publicly called her a “whore,” that then-CEO Sean Rad had dismissed her complaints against Mateen’s harassment as “dramatic,” and that her male colleagues stripped her of her co-founder title because they said that having a woman on the founding team would “make the company seem like a joke.” The lawsuit was later settled out of court and Wolfe is reported to have walked away with over $1 million, with no admission of guilt by either party. Wolfe won’t discuss the lawsuit, except to say that anyone who expected her to disappear afterwards probably didn’t know her very well.
“It was never like I was going to go hide in the bushes,” she says.
But there’s one essential difference: on Bumble, only women can send a message first.
For Wolfe, 25, that key difference is about “changing the landscape” of online dating by putting women in control of the experience.
“Guys found it to be ‘desperate,’ when it wasn’t desperate, it was part of a broken system.” Like many startup founders, Wolfe has big ambitions for the service: “It’s not a dating app, it’s a movement,” she says.
“This could change the way women and men treat each other, women and men date, and women feel about themselves.” Bumble launched about six months ago and seems to be catching on.
“And girls like it because it gives them more control over the conversation than other dating apps.” Besides, just as women are sick of waiting for men to make the first move, some guys are sick of always having to come up with a line.
“It’s flattering when someone reaches out to you,” says Larry Mahl, a 32-year old New Yorker who works at Yelp. (Wolfe is dating someone, but still swipes and messages in order to get user feedback.) She had messaged him that she was the founder of the company, and asked him for his thoughts.
A former member of Kappa at Southern Methodist University, Wolfe shows up at sororities with yellow balloons, cartons of yellow Hanky-Panky lacy underwear, and always, she says, “a cute purse.” Then she hands out a thong to each sorority sister who sends out 10 invitations to Bumble.