Bumble Dating App Expands Into Career Networking

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Whitney Wolfe, founder of Bumble.
Whitney Wolfe, founder of Bumble. Credit: Gari Askew
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If Whitney Wolfe has her way, the future of your career may mean swiping to the next opportunity. Ms. Wolfe, the founder of dating app Bumble, plans to build on her success thus far by introducing BumbleBizz, a feature that will let users jumpstart their networking efforts by matching with career peers and mentors.

BumbleBizz, first announced over the summer and now expected to arrive early next year, will apply the same matching principles already used by Bumble and similar dating apps: Users will upload career-related information about themselves, and the app will harness the data to find potential contacts. If two people swipe right, they can immediately begin communicating. Users will be able to switch between three unique profiles within Bumble -- one designed for dating, one geared at making friends (BumbleBFF) and BumbleBizz.

"The whole point of BumbleBizz is to change the way people network," Ms. Wolfe said, adding that the digital business networking landscape lags behind the progress that online dating platforms have made over the past decade. "We want to take away the resume-first approach and really make it all about that person and that connection that happens through the power of introductions."

Like the dating section of the app, within BumbleBizz, women will have the power to take initiative. When a match occurs between male and female contacts, the woman has 24 hours to activate the connection by beginning a conversation.

"It's about letting the woman know that it's okay to be outspoken, it's okay to be confident," she said.

BumbleBizz will also be testing ways to connect users with brands. The feature will premiere "Bumble Spots," or Bumble-approved locations where users can meet. At a "Bumble Spot," users who show their Bumble profile to the merchant will be eligible for discounts or promotions. The app will inform users of nearby "Bumble Spots," and users will be able to add filters that correspond to the types of locations they would like to use as meeting places (e.g. coffee spots).

For now the locations are unpaid partnerships, but Bumble expects to charge brands to be featured as "Bumble Spots" in the future, according to Chief Creative Officer Sarah Mick.

"We can get extremely detailed on what it is you're seeking and we can tap into this as an all-encompassing connecting tool that takes you beyond the app and to the actual physical meetup as well," said Ms. Wolfe.

Future plans include the ability to let users to create conversation groups and organize events from within the app. Ms. Wolfe said the aim of BumbleBizz is not to replace platforms such as LinkedIn, which Microsoft is buying for $26.2 billion, but to help Bumble users grow their careers through person-to-person connecting.

"We're focused more on the connection with the individual than a job posting," she said. "We want to be the Facebook for people you don't know."