Revitalizing Friendships: Bumble’s BFF Product Aims to Thrive Amid Decline in Dating Apps

Dating app maker Bumble is rethinking its vision for the company’s future after announcing weak earnings and massive job cuts that will see the company cutting a third of its staff, or around 350 employees. “Candidly, we have been slow to realize this broader vision with Bumble BFF thus far,” she told investors on Tuesday’s Q4 2023 earnings call. The CEO noted that the current BFF product has a small, but strong following. This is due to BFF using the same one-to-one match paradigm for friendships as Bumble uses for dating. That could limit BFF’s ability to monetize as Bumble’s dating product does.

After facing underwhelming financial returns and significant downsizing, popular dating app creator Bumble is reevaluating their future direction. As new CEO Lidiane Jones, formerly CEO of Slack, steps in, the company is shifting its focus to cater to Generation Z and expand its Bumble BFF friend-making service into a social network.

At present, Bumble’s BFF feature operates using the same swipe-to-like mechanism as the dating side, giving users the ability to either match or pass on profiles presented to them.

However, Jones believes this structure has not been successful for the company, despite the growing demand for apps that facilitate platonic relationships and connections.

“To be honest, we have been too slow to recognize the full potential of Bumble BFF,” Jones admitted during the Q4 2023 earnings call to investors. “Moving forward, we will reinvest our resources to propel a more ambitious strategy for Bumble For Friends – one that focuses on building safe and equitable friendships among communities of people with similar interests who are seeking real-life connections.”

Under Jones’s leadership, Bumble will redirect its more limited resources towards areas that present opportunities for growth. This includes utilizing AI in the dating app realm, as their competitor Match is also doing, and innovating within the BFF friend-finding category.

Jones also acknowledged that the current BFF product has a small but devoted user base. This is because BFF employs the same one-to-one match model for forming friendships as in dating.

However, Jones points out that this approach may not work as well for the friendship aspect compared to dating. In response, the new and improved BFF will aim to foster connections and communities in ways that are more akin to a social networking app.

“What we want to do is shift to a different model where Bumble for Friends is all about building and discovering communities. This is what our users are telling us – they enjoy being part of our platform,” Jones explained. “The hard part is actually connecting with others. So, we are making a significant investment in that area.”

While Bumble has yet to disclose their roadmap for implementing changes to BFF, their previous tests and internal product developments may provide some insight.

In August 2022, Bumble was seen experimenting with a new social networking feature known as “Hive.” This feature would allow users to connect through communities and offer features such as group chats, polls, and video calls. Bumble had initially discussed Hive during their earnings call in Q2 of that year, stating that it would facilitate platonic relationships through small communities. The feature was also tested in alpha markets such as Toronto, where users created thousands of “Hives.”

However, Hive was never officially released to all Bumble users, and the current BFF remains modeled after the dating format with user profiles, photos, and bios for swiping and matching.

With the recent job cuts, it is unlikely that Bumble will start from scratch with a new BFF format. Instead, it is speculated that they will launch Hive publicly as a way to revamp the friend-finding feature.

It is still unclear if Bumble’s efforts will be successful and positively affect their bottom line. While dating app users may be willing to pay for subscriptions and perks to improve their chances of finding love, people searching for friendships have plenty of free options, such as Facebook Groups, Meetup, and local organizations, to meet in person. This could potentially limit BFF’s ability to monetize, unlike Bumble’s dating product.

“We plan to bring along the millions of customers we currently have on our platform who are eager to continue being part of our community,” Jones reassured investors regarding BFF’s future. “We will have more details to share about our overall company strategy and product roadmap in the coming months.”

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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