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Bumble's first date with the public markets

Natasha Mascarenhas
·6-min read

The public markets have been so active lately that it’s hard to drum up excitement for yet another company making its way to the bull market. But, in the case of Bumble, a dating app where women message first, next week’s public debut is worth paying attention to.

The market for dating startups has long had an 11-year-old elephant in the room: Match Group. The Dallas company owns popular dating brands including Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, and more, which some saw as the singular exit point for startups that help people meet.

Bumble, founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd, will change that narrative with its entrance into the public markets. Bumble is seeking to raise more than $1 billion upon debut. The company could be worth between $5.73 billion and $6.14 billion, looking at a diluted valuation.

Bumble’s choice to swipe past the classic route to sell to Match Group tells us that Wolfe Herd is bullish that the exit environment is strong for dating apps, as loneliness amid the pandemic continues to impact the masses.

Cleo Capital's Sarah Kunst, a former senior adviser to Bumble, tells me that Bumble is making history in a few ways, and “may well unleash a tidal wave of new funding and startups in the space.”

“As the youngest woman to ever take a company public, Whitney has proven that dating, a category long shunned by venture investors, is a highly lucrative and fast growing sector,” Kunst said. “She also is at the vanguard of several dawning realizations in tech: companies founded outside of Silicon Valley, companies founded by women, and gender parity on boards.”

We’ll be all over this on TechCrunch and Extra Crunch next week, but in the meantime, let’s get through the other news of the week. Make sure to follow me on Twitter so I can bother you the remaining six days of the week.

Pandemic-era valuations

Valuations are simply the price that an investor thinks a startup is worth -- nothing more, nothing less. When a big event happens in the world of startups, such as a massive exit or blockbuster IPO, startups within the sector-of-interest often enjoy a boom in valuations.

Here’s what to know: This week, we explored whether edtech enjoyed that same burst of energy. According to over a dozen investors, edtech isn’t seeing skyrocketing valuations. It’s a surprise to me, but venture capitalists have their theories as to why (and seemingly are energized enough by exit opportunities in the meantime).

Etc: Beyond edtech, this survey can give us key intel on how sectors that faced a pandemic lift, such as fintech and e-commerce, are valued and ranked by investors. It might suggest that the noise is louder than the actual dollars and cents.

Carta tackles the startup liquidity problem

Don’t let the Demo Days fool you: Venture capital is getting bigger, faster, and older. But if you’re an angel who invested in a startup that was meant to go public in 2014, you might be getting a little bit impatient and want your capital back.

Carta is trying to create a solution to help startups trade secondary shares, pre-exit events, to bring liquidity earlier on in a startup’s life.

Here’s what to know: The tool, CartaX, finally launched this week after being teased out for months. Upon launch, Carta sold nearly $100 million of its own shares on its own cap table, at more than double its last valuation post-Series F round.

Etc: Carta is, of course, hoping that its cap-table management business will help it pull off the operation unlike others who have tried and failed. Here is some context from Danny Crichton:

That wave of liquidity startups ran into two problems: One was regulatory, and the other was a lack of company information about cap tables and that company’s current financial picture. Stock buyers were essentially flying blind while buying into companies, which some investors were more than willing to do, but that blindness limited the market demand for secondary shares significantly.

Image: JaaakWorks/iStock/Getty Images

The art of a startup narrative

It’s normal if sculpting a story out of the hot mess that is your day-to-day doesn’t feel natural. It’s like writing a story before you know exactly what you want to accomplish with each and every word. The difficulty doesn’t diminish the necessity, though.

Here’s what to know: Whether it’s pitching for a story or for millions of dollars, founders need to know how to nail their startup’s narrative. We got into the nuts in bolts in the latest edition of Extra Crunch Live, a virtual event series for early-stage founders.

We were very heads down, building these open-source projects and trying to create good software, and we just hadn’t thought a lot about the narrative. Over the years, that’s gotten a lot better, but it’s also become a lot more self-evident to us and much clearer as we write and build the business,” said Raj Dutt, Grafana’s co-founder and CEO.

Etc: Speaking of advice, here’s one warning story by Silicon Valley editor Connie Loizos about how an insurtech startup got their idea swiped (and funded) by their own venture backer. And to offset that stress, here’s one inspiring story, by yours truly, about how one woman went from user to chief executive of a startup in less than a year.

detail of a microphone with some bokeh on background

Work with really cool people, and me

Extra Crunch is now hiring for reporter, editor and project manager positions

It’s almost our second birthday, and in lieu of presents, want to send us candidates? The Extra Crunch team, which I’m a part of, is hiring for new contract positions to help us dig out what’s really going on in the world of startups.

Check out the amazing speakers joining us on Extra Crunch Live in February

Our live, virtual event series is back and better than ever with a stacked lineup and a ton of advice for early-stage startup folks.

Plus, a new gift for your inbox:

Wrapping up this week, TechCrunch has a new newsletter coming out on apps that is going to rule. Sarah Perez is writing it. You can sign up here, it’s free!

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

New antitrust reform bill charts one possible path for regulating big tech

The cloud infrastructure market hit $129B in 2020

A growing number of startups are creating APIs to assess and offset corporate carbon emissions

China’s national blockchain network embraces global developers

Seen on Extra Crunch

Udemy’s new president discusses the re-skilling company’s future

4 strategies for deep tech founders who are fundraising

Spotify Group Session UX teardown: The fails and their fixes

Dear Sophie: What’s the recipe for an H-1B

@EquityPod: A lake house architect, Miami VC, and homeowner walk into a wine bar

In this week’s podcast, the Equity team got their west coast correspondent back (aka me) and had a good ol’ time talking about everything from Miami to millennial homes.

Listen to the podcast to hear us chat about Drizly’s new parent, a new Nellie Levchin-backed startup, and UiPath’s big new valuation. We, of course, got into off topic conversations such as a sommelier that hates people and the lake house dynamic.

Until next week,

Natasha