Investors are buzzing about Bumble's forthcoming IPO. But can the busy dating bee light a match under Tinder and its parent company's online dating monopoly? 

Match Group — which owns over 45 global dating companies — acquired Tinder in 2017, adding the millennial matchmaking juggernaut to its roster of major online dating services like, Meetic, OkCupid, Hinge, PlentyOfFish, Ship, and OurTime. 

Bumble, which was launched in 2014 by a former co-founder of Tinder as the Sadie Hawkins dance of dating apps, has recently filed to go public. During a time when singles are meeting each other online more than ever before, how will Bumble stack up against Match’s extensive arsenal of dating platforms? 

The data seems to say that the Austin, Texas-based Bumble has its work cut out for it. The company’s App Store ratings count has increased by just 10% over the past year, as pandemic life set in. Meanwhile, the ratings counts for Match-owned apps Tinder and Hinge have grown by 23% and 64%, respectively. 

On Facebook, Bumble’s mentions spiked in August and peaked in December at 49,800 (they have since dropped). Hinge’s mentions are surging, as well, on a smaller scale, but a seemingly more consistent rate.

Bumble’s Facebook ‘Talking About’ count has decreased by 90% YTD, while Hinge’s mentions dropped by 49% and Tinder’s fell 18% in the same time period.

Even though Bumble has become buzzier (sorry) in recent years, Tinder still wears the zeitgeist crown when it comes matching online. Just as “Google” became a verb interchangeable with “search,” Tinder, after its launch in 2012, changed the language of dating — these days we all metaphorically swipe left or right on things with loathe or love. Almost ten years later, the novelty has become the norm; A study by Stanford found that 39% of heterosexual couples reported meeting online in 2017, compared with 22% in 2009. 60% of same-sex couples reported meeting online in 2017.

But Bumble does perhaps have an opening to fly through. If singles relied on dating apps before the pandemic, they’re definitely counting on them now, with bars and restaurants closed, segregated, or functioning at limited capacity. At the same time, people might be less willing to meet a potentially COVID-infected online stranger. Dating apps have dealt with this tricky paradox by pushing video chat dates and other virtual features.

An April study conducted by Match found that 69% of singles said they’d be open to chatting over video with someone they met on a dating app during quarantine. Since March, the company has seen a staggering 700% increase in the amount of OKCupid users going on virtual dates. Tinder reported that it saw more engagement on March 29 than on any other day in its history, with more than 3 billion users swiping, according to an April press release. (Match will report earnings in early February and show if their pandemic efforts have really paid off.)

And when it becomes safe to mingle in person again, these apps will certainly be counting on a swarm of pent-up demand.

(Check out our special report on digital dating.)

But Bumble will, barring any acquisitions or new products, be flying solo against Match's diversified lineup of dating products. The company claims 42 million monthly active users as of Q3 2020, which translated into 2.4 million total paying users through the first nine months of last year, a small fraction of its user base. Not to mention, Bumble’s net income fell from $68.6 million during the first nine months of 2019 to -$116.7 million during the same period in 2020. Match, meanwhile, claims over 10 million paying customers across its holdings.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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