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Blackstone Snags Majority Stake In MagicLab

Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. Herd is assuming the CEO role at MagicLab as part of this acquisition

Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Private equity juggernaut Blackstone has announced it's acquiring a majority stake in MagicLab, a company that's behind several popular online dating services including Badoo and Bumble. Blackstone's acquisition values MagicLab, which traces its roots to the launch of Badoo in 2006, at around $3 billion. Under the terms of the acquisition, Andrey Andreev, a Russian entrepreneur who launched and has led the company for more than a decade, will be selling his stake and stepping down, to be replaced by Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder and CEO of Bumble.

MagicLab is a prosperous but somewhat low-key company that has been behind some globally recognised online brands. Focused on the online dating sector, MagicLab is behind some of the best-known brands in that scene, including Badoo, a dating service with more than 400 million users, and Bumble, a female-focused dating app that was launched in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd, who's also a founding member of Tinder, another leading online dating brand. Lumen, a dating app for seniors, and Chappy, a dating app for the gay community, are two other popular brands owned by MagicLab.

Altogether, MagicLab's dating services have more than 500 million users. The London-based company has a somewhat interesting history, first for being more low-key compared to its counterparts even amid series of successes, and the second being that it's never been known to have taken outside funding, even though funding talks are said to have been initiated between the company and famed VC firm Sequoia Capital. Such situation indicates the company was likely profitable from its start up until now.

MagicLab founder Andrey Andreev

image: MagicLab

MagicLab is actually a new entity that was formed just this year to serve as parent for its dating brands. Before the consolidation, Badoo itself acted as sort of a proxy for its other dating brands. Out of MagicLab's several brands, Bumble is kind of a standout, having attracted more than 55 million users, many of those based in the U.S., after just five years of existence. MagicLab got hold of Bumble via an early investment that earned it a majority stake in the dating service. The initial investment, a reported $10 million, originated from an already established relationship between Andreev and Herd, a then Tinder executive. After stepping down from Tinder, Herd launched a direct competitor, a situation that spurred battles between both.

Now, with Herd at the helm of MagicLab, she'll not just be overseeing Bumble, but an online dating conglomerate with three other top brands in the sector.

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