By Lori Hawkins
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Lori Hawkins reports, “Private equity giant Blackstone Group is taking a majority stake in the owner of Austin-based dating apps Bumble and Chappy.”
Under the deal, Blackstone will acquire MagicLab, a London-based company that operates a suite of dating apps including Bumble, Chappy, Badoo and Lumen.
The transaction values MagicLab at about $3 billion and comes less than a year after Blackstone launched a growth equity arm to invest in fast-growing companies.
“We’re excited to invest in MagicLab, which is a pioneer in the fast-growing online dating industry,” Jon Korngold, head of Blackstone Growth, said in a written statement. “They have a highly talented team and strong set of platforms, including Bumble, which was built on a commitment to inclusion and female empowerment.”
MagicLab was founded by Russian-British billionaire Andrey Andreev. He started Badoo in 2006 and backed Bumble in 2014.
Andreev came under scrutiny this year after a Forbes story quoted former female staffers alleging that Badoo’s work environment at its London headquarters was hostile. Andreev denied the allegations.
As part of the Blackstone deal, Andreev will sell his stake to Blackstone and step down from the company. Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd will replace him as MagicLab CEO.
“Blackstone is world-class at maximizing the success of entrepreneur-led companies, which presents a tremendous opportunity,” Wolfe Herd said. “We are very excited to build the next chapter with them. I am honored to take on the role of CEO of the group.
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I will strive to lead the group with a continued values-based and mission-first focus.”
Wolfe Herd founded Bumble in 2014. It has grown into a top dating app with more than 75 million users worldwide, according to the company. Bumble has carved out a niche as a women-focused app in which women make the first move by messaging men first.
Bumble has grown from being a dating app into a company that markets itself as an empowering tool for women to meet friends and make business contacts.
Chappy, a two-year-old dating app for gay men, moved its headquarters from the United Kingdom to Austin this year.
The Chappy app, which has more than 610,000 registered users, is owned and operated by Bumble and a majority of Chappy employees are based in Bumble’s headquarters on North Lamar Boulevard.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.