Bumble seeks to relaunch its friendship-focused BFF product following dating app downturn


Dating app maker Bumble is rethinking its vision for the company’s future after announcing low incomes and massive job losses this will see the company cut a third of its workforce, or around 350 employees. In addition to plans to redesign its app for Gen Z, the company’s focus on the new CEO Lidiane Jones, previously CEO of Slack, will include creating a social network for his Bumble BFF friend search business.

Currently, the BFF side of the Bumble app uses the same swiping mechanism used on the dating side, where users are presented with a profile they may like to match or forward.

Jones believes this format hasn’t worked well for the company, despite customers’ growing demand for apps that help them find friendships and platonic relationships.

“Frankly, we’ve been slow to realize this larger vision with Bumble BFF so far,” she told investors during Tuesday’s fourth-quarter 2023 earnings call. “Going forward, we will focus our reinvestment on accelerating a bolder strategy for Bumble For Friends, one that will focus on building fair and safe friendships between communities of like-minded people who want to real connections,” Jones added.

Under Jones, Bumble will reallocate the company’s (now more limited) resources toward areas it believes present growth opportunities, including the use of AI in the dating app segment – such as competitor Match also does — but also to innovate in the friend search category with BFF.

The CEO noted that the current BFF product has a small, but strong audience. This is because BFF uses the same one-to-one matching paradigm for friendships that Bumble uses for dating.

But that, Jones explained, limits BFF to those who are comfortable with that paradigm. In other words, it’s something that may work for dating, but not as well for friendships.

Instead, the new BFF will focus on helping users connect with each other in new ways — or rather, in a way that’s more akin to a social media app.

“…What we want to do is move to this paradigm and [make] Bumble for Friends explains more about creating and finding communities. And that’s really what our customers say [us] – they love being part of our platform,” Jones said. But she added: “It’s really hard to connect with each other. So we’re really going to accelerate investment in this area.

While the company has yet to reveal its roadmap for changes to BFF, some past testing and internal product development could offer some insight.

Back In August 2022, Bumble was spotted experimenting with a new social networking feature dubbed “Hive”, which would allow users to connect through communities, and would also include support for things like group chats, polls and video calls. Bumble had told investors about Hive during its second-quarter earnings that year, emphasizing that it would focus on helping people find platonic connections through small communities. The product has also been alpha tested in markets like Toronto, where users have created thousands of communities known as “Hives.”

Image credits: Bumble Hives via Watchful

But Hive never launched to all Bumble users, and BFF today remains a friendship-focused version of the dating app format, with user profiles, photos, and bios on profile pages that users swipe on to like and match.

Given the job cuts at Bumble, the company is unlikely to build a new BFF format from scratch, but instead will push Hive to launch publicly, in order to revamp the friend finder product.

However, it remains to be seen whether Bumble will actually be able to capitalize on this initiative in terms of bottom line results. Dating app users are willing to pay for perks and subscriptions that give them a better chance of finding love, but friendship seekers have plenty of other free choices, like Facebook groups, Meetup, organizations and local community offerings, to meet people in the real world. This could limit BFF’s ability to monetize like Bumble’s dating product does.

“We plan to attract the millions of customers we currently have in our base who are eager to continue to be a part of our platform,” said BFF’s Jones. “We will have more to share about our full company strategy and product roadmap in the coming months. »


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