Bumble to expand to India with the help of actress Priyanka Chopra

New York
CNN business

Bumble is the newest online dating app to compete for the hearts of Indian women.

Bumble, where women have to make the first move, on Wednesday announced plans to launch in India this year. Indian celebrity Priyanka Chopra, a new investor in the company, will advise on the expansion.

The news comes less than a week after rival Tinder launched a My Move feature in India that allows women to avoid men from initiating a conversation.

But Bumble’s expansion efforts in India have been in the works for some time. Herd founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe said the newly engaged Chopra told her months ago that “women in India needed Bumble.” Chopra was among a group of high-profile women who helped launch online app Bumble Bizz in October 2017.

“It was clear then that we shared a passion for empowering young women globally,” Wolfe Herd told CNN in an email. “From there we started making a plan to come together and launch Bumble in India.”

Wolfe Herd said the challenge in entering the Indian market is “localizing the expertise and attracting women” – an area where Chopra will help.

Chopra’s manager, Anjula Acharia, is also an investor and advisor. Acharya helped Chopra — who was already established in India — gain popularity in the United States. But Acharya has a long history of crossover efforts. It was instrumental in introducing artists such as Britney Spears and Lady Gaga to India, a background that could be traced back to Acharia, helping Bumble resonate with the local audience.

Bumble’s local app will be in Hindi and Hinglish — a hybrid of Hindi and English — and available on iOS and Android. It will also roll out new security features before entering the region, which has a reputation for violence against women. In June, India was named the world’s most dangerous country to be a woman.

Wolfe Herd said Indian women will only be asked to provide their initials — not their last names — and will provide new ways to report “misbehavior” on the app.

Bumble already has photo verification features and over 4,000 content moderators who review photos and profiles.

Before Bumble, Wolfe Herd was an early employee and director of Tinder, but left the company in 2014 after allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. The case was eventually solved.

But the tension between the two dating companies is becoming increasingly apparent in the wake of a very public dispute between Bumble and Match Group, Tinder’s parent company.

In March, Match Group targeted Bumble with a lawsuit alleging the company infringed on patents and stole trade secrets. Bumble asked the court to dismiss the suit last week.

Separately, Bumble filed a countersuit against Match Group. Bumble has argued that Match Group is using the lawsuits as retaliation for botched acquisition talks. Both cases are ongoing.

While Bumble already operates in over 160 countries, India is a significant market due to its size. According to a report by Bain & Co, India has 390 million internet users, the second largest of any country after China.