Bumble rethinking women ‘making the first move’ on the app

Bumble is rethinking its rule to have women “making the first move” on the app.

In an interview with Fortune, Bumble’s new CEO, Lidiane Jones, said she is reconsidering having women initiate interaction on the app. After Bumble’s founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, stepped down as CEO at the start of the year, Jones took on the mantle and continued Wolfe Herd’s research into alternate options that could improve upon the company’s signature feature.

While noting that women making the first move has “obviously been our signature”, Jones explained to the outlet that “it feels like a burden for a subset of our customers today”.

The reconsideration of the option began under Wolfe Herd’s watchful eye. However, Bumble now plans on testing several different options that will be ready for when the app relaunches in the second quarter of 2024. Some options reportedly include providing female-identifying users with pre-written messages, a feature that already exists on Bumble BFF, with the platonic version of the app having AI-generated icebreakers. Another option is simply allowing men to make the first move, too.

Since it first burst onto the app store, Bumble’s whole gimmick has been that it is an app specifically created so that women “make the first move”, defying the social construct that men must always initiate conversation when pursuing someone they find attractive. The app boldly made it so women had 24 hours to message their male matches.

However, over the years, this non-traditional approach has had its hiccups, especially when it comes to being inclusive towards people with different gender identities and sexualities that go beyond the confines of heteronormativity. Women can message other women first, and men messaging other men would also have to message first, but the app has struggled with being inclusive towards those who identify as nonbinary. Ultimately, nonbinary users were given the option to message first.

Many dating app users have taken to social media to vent their frustrations, with many claiming they’ve deleted their profiles in favour of making serendipitous, in-person connections rather than virtual ones. Whether it’s the hilarious videos centring around people looking confused in places like a record store or a coffee shop, or trying old-fashioned speed dating, the reactions reflect a growing disillusionment with dating apps.

With the upcoming relaunch, Bumble said they plan to improve upon the already saturated dating app landscape, contending with companies such as Hinge and Tinder which regularly play with new payment structures and features to bring people back onto their platform.

The imminent changes announced at Bumble have come on the heels of the company announcing it would be slashing 350 jobs from its workforce to “transform our organisation and accelerate our product roadmap”, according to Jones in an earnings statement.