Dating App Bumble Creates Fund to Invest in Diverse Female Founders

Austin—Bumble, the dating app maker that has expanded into other areas of social networking, has launched an investment fund focused on startups founded by women.

The Bumble Fund plans to make early stage investments that focus on diverse female founders “who have been largely ignored by the established venture capital world,” according to news release from Austin-based company. Bumble told Forbes it committed more than $1 million to invest in those businesses, and that the fund plans to invest between $5,000 to $250,000 in each deal. (The company hasn’t responded to a request to confirm the amounts.)

Bumble’s chief operating officer, Sarah Jones Simmer, is leading the fund’s investments. Meanwhile, Sarah Kunst, the managing director of one of Bumble Fund’s first investments, Cleo Capital, is going to work as an advisor to Bumble Fund, according to the news release.

Cleo Capital is a venture fund that “empowers female founders to invest,” according to Bumble, and was one of five businesses that were a part of Bumble Fund’s first group of investments. The other four include swimwear company Sofia Los Angeles; Mahmee, a platform focused on coordinating prenatal and postpartum care with hospitals, health systems, and patients; the event BeautyCon; and women-focused early stage investment firm Female Founders Fund.

Bumble joins other organizations that are seeking to increase the amount of investment available to women founders, who currently only receive 2 percent of venture capital funding. All-women startup teams received just $1.9 billion of the total $85 billion invested by venture capitalists last year, according to Pitchbook. That’s about 2.2 percent of total funding. This week, the city of New York announced it is committing $10 million to invest in a new program called WE Venture that will target early stage companies led by women.

In June, Portfolia, an venture firm comprised of women investors, announced the launch of its sixth fund, called the FemTech Fund, which focuses on startups that address needs in women’s healthcare. While women don’t exclusively found startups related to women’s health, the sector tends to be dominated by female founders.

Bumble was founded in 2014 by Whitney Wolf Herd, a co-founder of Tinder who left and later sued the company for harassment before reportedly settling out of court. Bumble says it now has more than 37 million users, some of whom pay $9.99 per month for its premium features. The company expected to make more than $100 million in revenue last year, according to Forbes.

The Match Group (NASDAQ: MTCH), which owns Tinder, has reportedly made multiple buyout offers for Bumble, including one valuing it at more than $1 billion, according to Forbes. (Some of Tinder’s founders are suing Match Group and its parent, IAC (NASDAQ: IAC) for $2 billion, alleging the companies manipulated data to shift Tinder’s valuation, according to reports.)

While Bumble is known for its effort to create a women-friendly dating app, the company has expanded beyond the dating world with other services, including one called BFF that helps people find new friends, and a second called Bumble Bizz, which helps with professional networking.

Xconomy Texas Editor Angela Shah contributed to this report.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow @xconholley

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