By Nicole Cobler Austin American-Statesman
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Nicole Cobler reports, "Serena Williams is a big get for the Austin-based company, which debuted as a dating app in 2014. The app, which requires women to message first, has since expanded to Bumble Bizz for networking and Bumble BFF for making friends. It has more than 50 million users."
Bumble is ready for the next phase of its partnership with Serena Williams, announcing Wednesday that the tennis champion will become an investor of the company's "Bumble Fund."
Bumble Fund, an early-stage corporate investing vehicle that launched in 2018, focuses on companies led by underrepresented women and minority founders.
"In my life, and today more than ever, I've learned how impactful one woman's voice can be when given a platform to speak and be heard," Williams said in a written statement. "By joining forces with the Bumble Fund, we will continue amplifying female entrepreneurs and creating a place for them to personally and professionally champion their growth."
Williams is a big get for the Austin-based company, which debuted as a dating app in 2014. The app, which requires women to message first, has since expanded to Bumble Bizz for networking and Bumble BFF for making friends. It has more than 50 million users.
Williams is one of the most successful players in the history of the Women's Tennis Association's professional tour, ranking second all-time in major titles and having earned more than $88 million in tournament winnings.
And the tennis star has an investment arm of her own through Serena Ventures, which she founded in 2014. Serena Ventures also focuses on underrepresented founders and has invested in more than 30 companies.
According to a news release, Williams will join Bumble CEO and founder Whitney Wolfe Herd in Bumble Fund's pitch competition next month.
The pitch competition launched Wednesday through Bumble Bizz, the networking side of the Bumble app, with a focus on underrepresented founders.
Their latest partnership comes after Bumble launched its year-long "#InHerCourt" marketing campaign with Williams. The company unveiled a 30-second TV commercial during the Super Bowl that featured Williams calling on women to make the first move in work, love and life.
"When we launched our #InHerCourt campaign with Serena Williams this past January, we were amazed by the overwhelming response we received from women globally who felt empowered by our message," Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd said in a written statement. "In teaming up with Serena for the Bumble Fund, we want women everywhere to know that we are here, we are listening and we believe in you. We are giving women more keys to success, while encouraging them to push their ideas forward and keep thinking big when it comes to their business ventures."
Bumble Fund announced its second round of investments earlier this month.
The #InHerCourt marketing campaign is the company's latest move to push its women-focused message.
During South by Southwest, Bumble transformed Jo's Coffee on Austin's Second Street into an Instagrammable Bumble hive, kicking of 10 days of festivities on International Women's Day.
The company also hosted dinners around the country for International Women's Day to allow women to network with "the goal of creating more space at the table" in male-dominated industries, according to Chelsea Cain Maclin, Bumble's vice president of marketing.
And Bumble made waves in September when it took out a full-page ad in the New York Times that read: "Believe Women." The ad published one day after Christine Blasey Ford testified against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The company has also banned shirtless selfies and misogynistic language. The dating side of the app lets women interact only with the men they message first.
Last year, Wolfe Herd told CNBC the company's growth is outpacing expectations and added that the company is "actively pursuing" an initial public offering of stock.
The company generates revenue using a subscription model that offers some free features and charges for additional services.