Blackstone Makes $3B Match with Bumble Owner

The acquisition of dating app startup MagicLab fits Blackstone's push to invest in companies with robust growth profiles.
Matthew HellerNovember 11, 2019

Private equity giant Blackstone has found a match for its new growth-investing business, taking a controlling stake in the dating apps startup MagicLab.

The MagicLab stable of brands — which includes Bumble, Badoo, Chappy, and Lumen — was put together by Russian-British billionaire Andrey Andreev, who will be selling his stake to Blackstone and stepping down from the company.

The deal values MagicLab at about $3 billion and comes less than a year after Blackstone launched a new arm, Blackstone Growth Equity, to invest in companies with robust growth profiles. In addition to being profitable, MagicLab has annual revenue growth of about 40%.

Bumble is consistently in the top 10 of lifestyle apps in the U.S., averaging 1.5 million downloads per month over the past six months, according to App Annie data.

“We’re excited to invest in MagicLab, which is a pioneer in the fast-growing online dating industry,” Jon Korngold, head of Blackstone Growth, said in a news release.

“This partnership is a perfect example of Blackstone’s ability to use its scale, long-term investment horizon, and deep bench of operational resources to help entrepreneurs take advantage of transformational growth opportunities in order to create global industry leaders over time,” he added.

Since Andreev launched Badoo in 2006, it has grown to 450 million users. He added Bumble to his stable in 2014, teaming up with the women-first dating app’s founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd.

As part of the Blackstone deal, Wolfe Herd, who, with Andreev, currently owns 80% of MagicLab, will replace him as the company’s CEO. “We will keep working towards our goal of recalibrating gender norms and empowering people to connect globally, and now at a much faster pace with our new partner,” she said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal “offers clues to [Blackstone’s growth-investing] strategy. Instead of taking a minority stake in a cash-burning company such as ride-hailing rivals Uber Technologies Inc. or Lyft Inc., as peers like TPG and KKR & Co. have done, Blackstone is taking a controlling stake in a sizable company with strong cash flows.”