Meet the 25-year-old woman who made a ‘feminist Tinder’

It would be an understatement to say Whitney Wolfe has accomplished a lot for a 25-year-old. As one of the co-founders of Tinder (everyone’s favorite dating app/party game/means of thumb exercise), Wolfe is no stranger to creating and launching a globally successful startup. She’s also been a pivotal voice against the inexcusably misogynistic and sexist behavior that permeates Silicon Valley after becoming a victim of it herself; and after she settled her very public sexual harassment and workplace discrimination case against Tinder last year, Wolfe wanted to return to the app world in a more meaningful way.

Her initial vision, according to Business Journal, was to “create a platform where females could be nice to other females.” (Heck yeah!)

“I wanted to start a social platform app that would encourage kindness among a younger demographic of women, more of the junior high or high school set,” Wolfe elaborated to Racked, “It’s such an impressionable age for girls, and it’s a time they’re likely to be affected negatively by bullying. The original goal was to make something similar to Snapchat or Instagram where you could only talk to one another in kindness, whether it’s through emojis or pre-approved comments.”

But when Andrey Andreev, founder and CEO of Badoo, approached Wolfe to collaborate last year, he convinced her to come back to the dating app world. Wolfe would be returning to the arena that had made a cautionary tale of her, and she wanted to create a dating app notably different from its predecessors, one that would empower women.

“[It] was still very important for me to do something with social responsibility that could give girls power,” Wolfe told Racked.

So, along with ex-Tinder employees (and couple!) Sarah Mick and Chris Gulzcynski, she created Bumble.

What makes Bumble different is that only women can send the first message — and if said woman doesn’t send a message, the match will disappear after 24 hours. (In the case of same sex matches, either person can send the first message, but the 24 hour rule still applies.) The reasoning behind this is twofold: to encourage and empower women to make the first move, and to prevent “dead end” matches.

“Women are extremely independent in every facet of our lives, except dating,” Wolfe said to Racked, “We wanted to encourage a confident connection. Making the first move, whether a woman is matching with a man or a woman, gives her a boost of confidence right off the bat. It immediately puts her in the driver’s seat.”

The app utilizes the same location-based and swipe technology as Tinder, but seems to value quality over quantity and feels a little more in depth (it shows matches’ jobs and education). It has its own version of Tinder’s “Moments” feature, as well, called “Photosharing” — which allows matches to send Snapchat style photos privately within a conversation (. . . compared to “Moments,” which mass-shares your picture with all of your matches). The app “watermarks” all photos with the sender’s Bumble profile picture and name, as a way of preventing users from sending anything they wouldn’t want to be associated with in a different context.

“It’s a big risk for a dating app,” Wolfe told Tech Crunch. “But we see it as a great ice breaker for girls who want to start a conversation in a more Snapchat-like way.”

And it seems to be working. Since its official launch last December, the company boasts that they’ve made over a million matches. The comparisons to Tinder are inevitable, and all eyes are on Wolfe.

“I wish Tinder all the best in the world. I still hold equity in the company, and I hope it succeeds,” Wolfe told Business Journal. “The market is different. We’re trying to target someone who likes the fun of Tinder but might want something a little more serious, someone who likes the simplicity of Tinder but wants to make the first move.”

“This isn’t just because of Tinder, but never undervalue yourself or let yourself feel undervalued, because you have to know your worth,” Wolfe continued, “You have to believe in yourself before anyone else can believe in you.”

Based on her work with Bumble, it’s clear Wolfe knows exactly how much she’s worth — and she’s definitely worth the buzz.

(Images via via, via, via.)

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