Bumble retaliated by publishing an open letter as an ad in The New York Times and the Dallas Morning News.
“Dear Match Group,” the letter began. “We swipe left on you. We swipe left on your multiple attempts to buy us, copy us, and, now, to intimidate us. We’ll never be yours. No matter the price tag, we’ll never compromise our values.”
Positioning Bumble as the underdog, the letter continued: “We — a woman-founded, women-led company — aren’t scared of aggressive corporate culture. That’s what we call bullying, and we swipe left on bullies. Ask the thousands of users we’ve blocked from our platform for bad behavior.”
The connection to the Bumble’s claim to be a safer app for women was explicit. “We strive every day to protect our nearly 30 million users, and to engineer a more accountable environment,” the letter said. “Instead of swinging back and forth between trying to buy us, copy us, and sue us, why don’t you spend that time taking care of bad behavior on your platforms?”
Match responded with a statement: “The facts around this lawsuit are simple: a company can not steal trade secrets and confidential information nor infringe on patents without repercussions. It’s our responsibility to defend the work of our employees, which we are doing, through lawsuits against two separate companies.”
Mr. Diller took a swipe of his own at Bumble, declaring in these pages that “Match.com has caused God knows how many more marriages than bars ever did. And now I’m starting to hear that out of Tinder. It’s funny, though, on Bumble, the women get to choose first and they don’t want to.”
Still, some analysts saw Bumble’s letter as a shrewd marketing move.
“Bumble has adroitly attempted to position this lawsuit as a bullying maneuver by a much larger, more established company,” said Wayne Pollock, the managing attorney at Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm. “It’s a typical David vs. Goliath.” Even though Bumble is 79 percent owned by Badoo, a large company, Mr. Pollock said, “the brand of Bumble is not 79 percent owned by Badoo; it’s 100 percent women-controlled.”
Finally, on March 28, Bumble filed its own lawsuit against Match Group, demanding $400 million in damages. Bumble’s arguments are two-fold — that the claims Match made about trademark and patent infringement are “meritless, frivolous,” and were only leveled to make Bumble look bad to other investors.