Defensibility — Can a Subtle Change Be Counted as a New Business Model (Tinder vs. Bumble)

Eugene Leychenko
3 min readMay 16, 2016

Tinder, the origin dating app for millenials, which ushered in the UX of “swipe left for no and right for yes,” recently took on an opponent — one of their own. Bumble, founded by a former Tinder exec, Whitney Wolfe, put women in the driver’s seat.


Tinder, which launched in September 2012, boasts an impressive 50 million users. The app has been downloaded 100 million times, has 10 million daily users, and has generated over 10 billion matches.

Tinder has began monetizing their user base with paid memberships as well as clever native advertising. Back in 2014, Tinder was acquired by IAC, the collector of all the dating apps.


Bumble, launched in December 2014, by Whitney Wolfe, a former exec at Tinder. Bumble was positioned as the “women’s response to Tinder.” By placing women in control, they would take a significant piece of Tinder’s pie.


Both Tinder and Bumble are built on swiping left and right to denote interest. In addition, men have a finite amount of swipes per day.


  • Only women can start the conversation. The benefit here being that women won’t be spammed by men. This tweak is good for everyone’s sanity, saves 90%+ of the time wasting.
  • They only have 24 hours from the time they match to start chatting before the connection disappears forever. This creates a scarcity mindset, which will lead to producing faster matches.

Both of these feature differences are incrementally better than Tinder. So what is stopping Tinder from ripping them off?

Pride can’t be a reason why a bigger company won’t steal a few moves from the up and comer, especially if they are in the exact same business.

Rocket Internet makes a business of unapologetically stealing successful American business models and launching them in Europe and Asia.

The real goal is for Bumble to become Tinder (in terms of size) before Tinder becomes Bumble (in terms of features). It is obvious that the latter is simpler than the former.

Reputation is important here too. If Bumble is known as the “safe” alternative to Tinder, because women are in control, AND Tinder continues to remain the wild west of dating, we’ll notice a shift of quality prospects shift apps. First the women will go, and surely the men will follow.

If providing safety and comfort to its female audience continues to be Bumble’s main value proposition and Tinder chooses it to be priority number 4, then Bumble will outperform them everytime. It’s never the big releases which convey this attention to detail, it tends to be the smaller UX or permissions which make the biggest difference.

In conclusion, Yes it sucks when the big guy comes in and copies you. Yes they have more money. But what they lack is the genuine focus and dedication to your mission. If your company’s culture lives and breathes your mission, then the roadmap builds itself. The other guy will just be playing a second rate game of “catch up.”

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Eugene Leychenko

Writing about business strategy and well executed development. Running (web & mobile development from NYC/LA)