Badoo tries to break US with app Lulu that rode sexism storm

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London-based Badoo has swooped for controversial dating app Lulu, where girls could rate guys anonymously as its global battle with Tinder hots up.

Badoo, founded by Russian entrepreneur Andrey Andreev in 2006, already boasts more active users than Tinder.But the company, whose app shows users single people nearby, hopes buying New York-based Lulu for an undisclosed fee will help it break America and bolster its position as the world’s largest dating platform.

In November, Match Group, the parent company of Tinder, claimed to have 59 million monthly active users, slightly fewer than Badoo’s 60 million. The deal comes five years after Lulu’s inception and is expected to result in a multi-million pound payday for founder and chief executive Alexandra Chong, who will oversee Badoo’s global expansion as its new president.

Lulu’s early backers, including Yuri Milner, an early investor in Facebook and Twitter, and London-based venture-capital firms Passion Capital, run by Eileen Burbidge, and PROfounders Capital, will also cash in on the sale. The company raised $15 million (£10 million) in three private funding rounds.

Chong, who founded the company in London before moving its headquarters to New York, told the Standard that selling Lulu, which has yet to generate revenues, was “the next step” as it looks to monetise its six million-strong user base. She said: “I believe [Lulu] will start generating revenues very soon and that’s partly why it is an important next step.”

Lulu’s “girls-only” dating app was branded sexist as women using it anonymously rated different aspects of a man’s looks and personality, enabling their friends to do due diligence before going on a date.

However, last month it scrapped the review system, opting instead for a more traditional dating app in  preparation for its tie-up with Badoo as it becomes a fully-fledged dating service.

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February 10, 2016 |
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