Economic History · investing

Just Bumbling

Last month, the dating app Bumble debuted its IPO, which was meant to come in at a relatively impressive $43.00 per share. On the first day of public trading, the price skyrocketed by 70 percent, landing the girl power app at just under eighty dollars per share. The stock has since cooled off, but presently sits around sixty bucks, with a market cap of slightly below 7 billion dollars. So the swipers cheer.

Other (drowned out) voices are skeptical, perhaps because the stock movement leaves a very crucial question in limbo: What for? We get it, today’s market and drive for digital applications seems to know zero bounds. Anxious investors trade after whatever new flash has hit the water, and give hardly a second thought about it. Still, where is the argument in favor of Bumble emerging?

A cursory look at the company’s finances provide murky basis for this rise:

The company generated revenue of $416.6 million during the first nine months of 2020, up from $362.6 million during the comparable period a year earlier. Bumble also recorded a net loss of $118.5 million during the first nine months of 2020, versus net income of $54.0 million in the same period a year before.

Are those figures deserving of a share price far past many companies that have operated and delivered consistently for years? I understand something around $10.00 per share, but such grandeur seems almost entirely driven by religious belief. Bumble is after all a simple app that lets people date. It hardly has broken the standard in any regard, aside from letting women go first, resulting in most saying “Hey” rather than furthering the “meaningful conversation” they claim to desire.

Then we have the effectiveness issue. Countless men report (and are shown through social experiments) to be getting no results using Bumble or other dating apps. At best they are spending hours swiping on pretty pictures in a fruitless effort, or speaking with robot profiles which the company permits to enhance their numbers. Perhaps gay men are doing well, but otherwise the actual worthiness of the app is highly questionable.

And that may be precisely the wrong way to examine things. Maybe the focus on female empowerment is what makes Bumble a solid purchase. Men will continue to simp pointlessly, and females can count on the app to deliver a steady supply of eligible (attractive or rich) suitors. So instead of hindering their business model, the approach actually strengthens it.

What the hell. I’ll buy.

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