In a fast-moving news cycle, a personnel change wouldn’t seem to catch our attention, but this morning dating app Bumble announced a doozy: It’s replacing founder CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd with Slack CEO Lidiane Jones.
Jones only started as CEO at Slack last year, replacing another founder CEO, Stewart Butterfield. Jones, whose background includes various roles at Salesforce, Microsoft and Sonos, will be starting at the first of the year.
Wolfe Herd, who will be moving to the executive chair role, spoke effusively of Jones and her ability to lead Bumble. “Lidiane’s expertise and track record in product and technology is exceptional and having her leading the next chapter of Bumble Inc. is a major win for our company, customers and team,” she said in a statement.
While Bumble now has a clear line of succession, it leaves Slack in a bit of pickle. Salesforce paid almost $28 billion for the company at the end of 2020. Two years later, Butterfield announced he was stepping down, and that Jones would be his replacement.
Like Wolf Herd, he spoke highly of Jones and saw her as a perfect replacement, describing her as “pragmatic and practical, insightful, passionate, creative, kind, and curious” in a Slack message announcing her promotion last year.
She described her role as Slack CEO in an interview with TechCrunch earlier this year:
“I really started this job with a fresh perspective. How do we deliver great Slack native experiences that bring in Salesforce in it, as opposed to building Salesforce in Slack? I want to make sure that Slack still feels like Slack,” she said.
Jones brings with her a ton of experience in the enterprise and consumer settings. That includes three years at Salesforce in various roles including head of product for Commerce Cloud, GM of Commerce Cloud and GM of Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Experience Cloud.
Prior to that Jones spent 13 years at Microsoft working on several products including Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project, Enterprise Application Virtualization, Office Collaboration and Azure Machine Learning. After leaving Microsoft and prior to joining Salesforce, she spent four years at Sonos as VP of product.
Founded in 2014 by Wolfe Herd and other Tinder employees, Bumble was meant to be a new spin on dating apps by allowing women to lead the conversation by being the first to message their matches. Over the years that followed, the company has taken a more feminist and safety-oriented stance than its counterparts by enacting policies that cracked down on ghosting, doxing, the sharing of unwanted sexual photos, and added features that prevented bad actors from unmatching to hide from victims of their abuse.
Before 2019, Bumble was majority-owned by European dating giant Badoo, but Badoo founder Andrey Andreev later sold his entire take in Bumble’s parent company MagicLab, and stepped away from the business. Wolfe Herd, Bumble’s founder, then became CEO of the company, retaining her stake in the business. That company now includes Bumble, Badoo, and other apps, like Fruitz, a dating app it acquired in 2022, and an app for couples, Official, as well as a Bumble spin-out for friendships, Bumble BFF, which launched as a standalone app this year.
Wolfe Herd had recently hinted toward where she wanted to take the business next, ahead of this transition, saying that AI would “supercharge” love with digital matchmakers. She spoke last month at the Code Conference, sharing how AI would help people find more compatible matches, and possibly even allow for users to create their own AI matchmakers who would talk to other AIs to determine compatibility. It’s unclear if those Bumble’s plans for AI will continue in the same way, in light of the new leadership, although Slack and Salesforce were fully embracing AI.
The change comes at a time when the dating app market is losing steam with young people. A study of U.S. college students from Axios today reported that 79% don’t use dating apps even as much as once a month, and 12% said they use Tinder monthly. Tinder is the most used dating app, but still doesn’t have the traction it did years ago, forcing owner Match Group to increase revenue from its paying customers, including through expensive subscriptions like the $499 per month Tinder Select subscription, for example.
These changing user behaviors have also impacted Bumble. Since its 2021 IPO, priced at $43, the stock reached over $70 on opening day, but is today was worth around $14 ahead of today’s news. The stock is currently trading at around $12.67 as investors react to the announcement.
Bumble announces its Q3 earnings tomorrow, Nov. 7, 2023. Its last quarter saw the dating app maker beating analysts expectations, with revenue up 19% year-over-year to $259.7 million and forecasts for Q3 in line with Wall Street’s estimates.
When the new year starts, it will be Jones, who has experienced a meteoric rise since the end of last year, bringing a new perspective to Bumble, just as she did when she took the helm at Slack.