Bumble buys Geneva to further expand into friendship market


Bumble has purchased community-building app Geneva to further expand into the friendship market as it moves away from a sole focus on romantic relationships.

The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its focus from “one-to-one connections to groups and communities,” marking another shift into the company becoming primarily a connection-based platform rather than just a dating-centric one.

In this month’s Q1 earnings call, CEO Lidiane Jones noted that the company planned on considering Geneva’s “value add” to the company’s current goals. She said: “There’s certainly a lot of interesting technology companies across the industry that we’re constantly looking at, but we immediately look at if it actually aligns and accelerates with our long-term mission here.”

The ongoing decline in dating apps has led to weak earnings industry-wide, with Bumble being one of the casualties. To cut costs, the company laid off 30 percent of its workforce this year.

Although Bumble already has a separate friends app built around meeting locals, Geneva takes that concept to the next level by emphasizing community building not just connecting. Founded in 2019, Geneva’s mission is to bring like-minded people together in a given area to form a community, whether that be a book club or a hiking group.

Since its inception, the company has raised $36m from investors including Coatue, Instagram founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, Sequoia’s Michael Moritz, and Patreon co-founder Jack Conte.

As for whether or not Geneva will continue to operate outside of Bumble, it remains to be seen, but evidence points to Geneva being incorporated into Bumble’s app and ceasing to be a standalone platform. In a post on its website, Geneva told users that it would continue to support “existing groups,” however, it will be making the app invite-only as it undergoes this transition.

Jones hinted at this direction in a LinkedIn post, stating that the company was planning to “accelerate our friendship product using Geneva’s powerful technology platform”. Concrete answers on what will happen to the standalone app are expected to arrive in Q3 of this year.

This isn’t the only big move Jones has made with Bumble this year, with the CEO aiming to take the platform in a new direction by reconsidering having women make the first move on the dating app. While noting that women making the first move has “obviously been our signature”, Jones explained to Fortune that “it feels like a burden for a subset of our customers today” amid a frustrating dating landscape.

Atmosphere at The Cut’s “How I Get It Done” Presented By Bumble at The Premiere on 21 January 2024 in Park City, Utah. (Getty Images for The Cut)

Bumble’s acquisition of Geneva shows that the company is intent on making big moves to contend with competitors like Hinge and Tinder, which regularly play with new payment structures and features to bring people back onto their platform.

But Bumble’s rebrand hasn’t been with its pitfalls, namely the backlash against the company’s latest ad campaign that controversially made a case against celibacy. Although the marketing team had been aiming for a tone of cheeky provocation, it ultimately didn’t land how they wanted it to.

“We made a mistake,” the company apologized in a statement. “Our ads referencing celibacy were an attempt to lean into a community frustrated by modern dating, and instead of bringing joy and humor, we unintentionally did the opposite.”

The company noted that they planned on taking down the billboards and go back to the drawing board to create a campaign more representative of their brand’s message. They added that they will be making a donation to the National Domestic Violence hotline as well as other organizations to demonstrate their support for survivors and marginalized groups affected by abuse.


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