Earlier this month it was revealed that Bae, the dating app for black singles, had been acquired by Silicon Valley social app company if(we).
An acqui-hire, the deal sees the brothers who founded Bae, Brian and Justin Gerrard, join if(we) to lead marketing and growth.
Launched in August 2014, Bae was a dating & social app for black millennials that became one of the industry’s fastest-growing niche products, receiving praise from Techstars and Facebook’s FbStart Accelerator Program.
After being bought by if(we), the dating product has now been merged with Tagged, if(we)’s social platform founded in 2004.
When combined with fellow if(we) product Hi5, the Silicon Valley business has a total user base of +300m registered members.
With the acquisition, Justin and Brian Gerrard have been appointed as co-leads of marketing and growth at if(we).
We recently spoke to the Bae founders to chat about their plans for if(we), its exciting new livestreaming app WeChill, and how they aim to use their years of dating startup experience to rejuvenate if(we)’s social products.
What kinds of marketing opportunities do you see now that you’re taking over the marketing for if(we)’s network?
Brian: As a premier social consumer company, if(we) has a loyal base of users and tremendous organic growth. We are excited to leverage our expertise in large scale growth and marketing from Bae to expand the user base through influencer marketing, PR, online spend etc. Two thirds of Tagged users are outside of the US, which also aligns nicely with our skillset. In our first year working on Bae, we were ranked as a top 50 Lifestyle app in 20 African/Caribbean countries and aspire to rapidly grow if(we) in the same way.
Do you foresee any challenges with if(we) with the ever-expanding environment of dating apps?
Justin: if(we) has successfully navigated the dating space in the US and internationally for 12 years and remained profitable despite the emergence of hundreds of new players over the last decade. While if(we) may not be the bright and shiny new thing, we have a vast knowledge of our users and what they are looking for in new dating experiences. We are going to use that knowledge to launch some exciting features and products in the near future that should drive more engagement from our existing users and bring new fans to the community.
What is the difference between Tagged and Hi5?
Justin: Tagged and Hi5 both serve a diverse audience of people looking to make new friends from around the world. While Tagged is extremely popular in the US and Western Europe, Hi5 has great traction in Asia.
Can you share what’s going on at if(we) right now?
Brian: If(we)’s portfolio includes Tagged and Hi5 and we are excited to announce our next venture. We have officially launched a new and revolutionary social app into the livestreaming space, called WeChill! We have taken a completely different approach from Facebook Live and Periscope, because we believe that there is an opportunity to make livestreaming more social and engaging. Unlike our competitors, on WeChill, viewers can send and share custom virtual gifts that can be cashed out by broadcasters. Traditionally, content creators on platforms like Periscope and Instagram had to make money B2B, hoping that they would get the attention of a major brand to sponsor them. On WeChill, the creators can make money and engage directly with their fans and consumers … and it’s already working! WeChill trended in the App Store and we have had tens of thousands of downloads pouring in each week, and celebs joining organically at launch.
How has Dash Gopinath, the CEO of if(we) positioned your company for success in 2017?
Justin: Dash is a product-driven CEO with a maniacal focus on how our community uses apps across our portfolio and new features that will improve their experience. He is currently positioning if(we) for future form factors in the dating industry that will establish the company as a leader in novel product innovations.
What excites you most about joining if(we)?
Brian: If(we) is the most forward-thinking tech firm in the valley. We have a true understanding of industry trends and a talented team to act on them. Every day is exciting, from the company culture, to the opportunity to build things that millions of people will use to enhance their lives. If(we) knows the future of social consumer communication is livestreaming, so I am excited to help guide these products to market.
Find out more about the acquisition of Bae here.