Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday.

Had Valentine’s Day fallen on a weekday between Tuesday and Thursday, I’d suspect that one of those would’ve been an ideal date for Bumble ($BMBL) to IPO.

Alas, next Thursday is the closest workday that marries attention of the stock market’s dollars and acts as an indirect reminder to absent-minded males to arrange something superfluously special for their partners:

Bumble, an Austin-based dating app provider, has set its upcoming IPO terms at between $28 and $30 per share, giving the business a $5.8 billion fully diluted valuation if it priced in the middle of its proposed range. Blackstone has backed Bumble since acquiring a majority stake in parent company MagicLab for around $3 billion in 2019. Link

If there’s a description more unromantic than “leading global investment business investing capital on behalf of pension funds, large institutions and individuals,” then I challenge you to pass your suggestion my way.

That sentence is how Blackstone summarizes its mission when you do a web search.

And while Whitney Wolfe Herd will get a lot of deserved praise next week, not only as a female founder and the CEO of Bumble, who is coincidentally an alumna of Match ($MTCH) by way of Tinder, which ended with little amicability, Blackstone will aforementioned be involved, i.e., will make money:

MagicLab founder Andrey Andreev once longed for an initial public offering and a Nasdaq listing for his company’s popular dating apps, including Bumble.

But then Blackstone Group Inc. came along “with a nice and beautiful offer,” Andreev, 45, said in an interview at a London hotel. “I couldn’t refuse.”

In November [2019], the private equity firm took a majority stake in MagicLab at a valuation of about $3 billion. Andreev, who founded the company in 2006, sold his stake and stepped away from the business as part of the deal, which closed this week. Now, with at least $1.5 billion in hand, he plans to devote some of the money from the all-cash transaction toward philanthropic pursuits. Link

Blackstone’s investment took place a little over a year ago.

The firm will gladly welcome the opportunity to liquidate some shares.

What’s unusual or oddly perfectly fitting for the category of matchmaking companies is how sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault allegations and lawsuits followed the evolution of the current duopoly of Tinder and Bumble:

Long before she sued and started a rival company, Ms. Wolfe Herd was a key player in Tinder’s initial success. She was one of its first employees and as the vice president of marketing, successfully built up usership by targeting college students. She would visit campus sorority and fraternity houses — signing up the women first, correctly intuiting that the men would follow.

In the early days of the app, Ms. Wolfe Herd dated her boss, Justin Mateen, Tinder’s chief marketing officer. According to the sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed in 2014, after Ms. Wolfe Herd broke up with Mr. Mateen, he repeatedly called her derogatory names, including in front of co-workers and Sean Rad, the chief executive; threatened her multiple times, including telling her he would fire her if she “hurt his pride”; and told Ms. Wolfe that he would take away her co-founder title because having a young female co-founder “makes the company seem like a joke” and “devalues” it. Link

A decade ago, I was immersed in learning about app development.

As a standout, Tinder’s interface was simple and successfully introduced swiping.

Years ago, I invested in Match reluctantly because of its roster of apps, which amassed to become a legal monopoly.

Of the Match shares I still own, the return is 330.37%, but I will soon welcome owning Bumble shares:

Match Group reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings last November, particularly when it came to Tinder: the company saw revenue growth and an increase in subscribers in the third quarter, despite the pandemic.

Tinder remains the highest-grossing app in the Lifestyle category in ~100 countries and has grown direct revenue from essentially zero in 2014 to an expected nearly $1.4 billion this year,” the company wrote in its letter to shareholders.

Match Group also reported in its third-quarter earnings that Hinge subscriptions were up 82% last year and revenue had grown more than 200% year-over-year.

For Bumble’s part, Wolfe Herd told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on the “Boss Files” podcast that there have been some advantages to dating app users during the pandemic.

“More genuine connections are forming out of this, and people are really, you know, being secure in who they’re meeting before that eventual physical meet-up ever begins,” Wolfe Herd said. Link

Do I think that Bumble’s ambition of supplementing friend-finding and career-building to the app’s main function of dating will work?

I don’t know. But there’s nothing wrong with making platonic friends, and I’ll take a chance on any career builder that exists outside of LinkedIn.

But I like Bumble simply because it looks and feels better.

Sometimes, comfortability makes a difference.

Kudos to female empowerment strides!

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