Despite backlash, CEO of Austin-based Bumble has no regrets about company’s stance on guns

CEO Whitney Wolf Herd tells SXSW crowd that Bumble is focused on kindness, and guns have no place on the Austin-based company’s dating app.

Posted March 10th, 2018

When female-friendly dating app Bumble banned pictures of guns in profile pictures this week, the backlash was immediate, founder Whitney Wolfe Herd told a SXSW crowd on Saturday.

But the Austin-based company has no regrets, she said.

“This is not a place for violence, for us to highlight violence,” Wolfe Herd said in a conversation with CBS This Morning host Gayle King during a SXSW conversation. “We will always put our values before our bottom line. End of story.”

When asked by King if the decision was in response to the February 14 school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead, Wolfe Herd said yes.

Bumble's Austin headquarters on West 41st Street.Erika Rich for American-Statesman

“The Florida shooting was a tipping point. We watched that and said why would we normalize or romanticize something that is taking life,” she said. “There was lots of backlash. You’re going to lose some fans along the way. I probably have more people who hate me than like me, but that’s okay.”

The company, which has 29 million users worldwide, has already banned shirtless selfies and misogynistic language. The app lets women interact only with the men they message first.

Wolfe Herd also sounded out on Tinder, the dating app company she left in 2012 after alleging sexual harassment and discrimination. The case was settled but the lawsuit detailed verbal harassment. 

“I don’t believe revenge is part of my agenda,” she said. “There’s no animosity towards anyone, we’re doing our own thing.”

Wolfe Herd said she was motivated to start Bumble after experiencing extreme sexist attacks on the internet after leaving Tinder at age 24.

“The misogyny many women have experienced in real life I started to experience in a digital way,” she said. “I realized misogyny is such a cancerous issue. What we’ve tried to do at Bumble is not follow these rules of misogyny.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Check out the new headquarters of Austin-based dating app Bumble

Meanwhile, Wolfe Herd declined to comment about reports late last year that Match Group, the parent company of Tinder, made an offer to acquire Bumble for $450 million.

“I can’t comment on that right now,” she told King.

Wolfe Herd did comment on the company’s decision to place its logo on the uniform of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team.

Bumble will pay about $20 million a year over three years, according to Bloomberg, as part of a broader agreement between the company and the NBA franchise.

Wolfe Herd said she was drawn to the NBA team’s commitment to gender diversity, adding that the Clippers have the largest female leadership team in the NBA.

“We heard a lot of people say basketball is such a misogynistic culture -- why would you go into an industry like that,” she said. “But we want to make an impact where impact still needs to be made.”

Wolfe Herd said Bumble will continue building out its other apps -- Bumble BFF, where people can make new friends, and Bumble Bizz, which is designed to help professionals network.

She said the company also will be rolling out solutions to combat “ghosting,” in which a person abruptly breaks off communication with someone they have gotten to know.

Bumble's Austin headquarters on West 41st Street.Erika Rich for American-Statesman