Since Bumble launched from Austin in 2014, the dating app has been hailed as a tool for women's empowerment. That may be undermined by a new report of toxic workplace allegations at Bumble's sister company, London-based dating app Badoo.
The report, published in Forbes on July 8, details numerous examples of intra-office sexism and racism dating back to 2010, when Badoo launched its iPhone app and started rapidly growing. They include drug-fueled parties, engineering updates named after porn stars, and a video of an employee with a prostitute that was circulated throughout the office. As recently as July 2018, a male employee was reportedly fired for "inappropriate touching" at a company party--and then rehired following an investigation by an external consulting firm.
Badoo founder and CEO Andrey Andreev is also a founding partner and majority stakeholder in Bumble, which is helmed by Whitney Wolfe Herd. In just the past six months, Wolfe Herd lobbied the Texas House of Representatives to criminalize "cyberflashing," launched a "private detector" tool to automatically screen out unwanted sexual images, and invested in multiple women-run startups.
Despite the salacious allegations lodged at Badoo's founder, which stand to derail Wolfe Herd's pro-woman credibility, she is standing by Andreev. "What I've seen firsthand from Andrey is creative and motivating behavior," Wolfe Herd told Forbes. "Andrey has never been anything but kind and respectful to me." Neither company responded to Inc.'s requests for comment.
The Forbes story also notes Andreev's efforts to improve Badoo's culture over the past year, including increased maternity leave, a workplace discrimination survey for female employees, and companywide diversity and inclusion training. Multiple ex-Badoo employees told Forbes that the culture has been "slowly improving."
Still, other former employees question Bumble's role in the saga--pointing to it as a PR salve for Badoo's problems, especially since Bumble's engineering and product development teams sit alongside Badoo in London. "As Bumble grew and grew, you wonder why they didn't re-look at that business relationship and set it up so that engineers and more product people were also in the Austin office," one ex-employee told Forbes. "There's a power play of who wants to control the product."