[Update: On July 12, 2019, at 1 pm ET, a spokesperson for Badoo parent Magic Lab informed Forbes that the company has hired a different employment firm, Doyle Clayton, to investigate allegations described below.]
Andrey Andreev, founder and majority owner of online dating apps Bumble and Badoo, said in a statement to Business Insider on Tuesday that his company will investigate allegations, made in a Forbes report, by over a dozen of his former employees that his London-based corporate headquarters is toxic, especially for women.
“The company has hired an independent organization, Peninsula Group, to formally investigate claims of injustice,” Andreev said in the statement. “Anyone who has information of misconduct within our workplace is encouraged to contact Peninsula Group, which will ensure the protection and confidentiality of all complainants. We commit now to making the findings of the investigation public and implementing the recommendations in our business.”
Ann Roberts, head of human resources at Badoo, also sent an email to employees on Wednesday announcing the investigation. “We will give these ex-employees an opportunity to have their voices heard so we can learn the truth about these injustices,” she wrote. “We will uphold recommendations from the investigation, will hold people accountable, and we will change our ways where change will be needed.” The e-mail, seen by Forbes, was sent to staff at the company’s London and Moscow offices, as well as members of Bumble’s staff.
Andreev owns at least 59% (and possibly as much as 79%) of Bumble, founded in 2014, which markets itself as focusing on female empowerment and giving women a safer environment for dating. Bumble’s founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd also responded to Forbes allegations, which were based on interviews with 13 former employee who worked in the London-based Badoo headquarters at various times between 2010 to 2019. Also on Tuesday, she told TechCrunch, “All of us at Bumble are mortified by the allegations about Badoo (Bumble’s majority owner) from the years before Bumble was born, as chronicled in the Forbes story. I am saddened and sickened to hear that anyone, of any gender, would ever be made to feel marginalized or mistreated in any capacity at their workplace.”
Allegations made by the 13 former employees cite a sexist office culture, including internal engineering updates named after porn stars and a widely circulated video of one employee receiving oral sex from a prostitute. The former employees also alleged that Andreev made derogatory comments in the office around race and physical appearance. Andreev and Magic Lab, his holding company for his four dating apps including Badoo and Bumble, denied the majority of the allegations in the initial Forbes report.
After Forbes published our investigation of Badoo on Monday, a former employee who saw the video revealed her identity on Twitter. “I’m the one in the story who was made [to] watch that video during a social event in the office,” wrote Jude Farrell, who worked in Badoo’s London office from 2011 to 2012. Referring to her experience at Badoo, she added: “It’s the only time in my life that I felt physically threatened in the workplace. I suffer from survivor’s guilt for not speaking up then. #BadooMeToo.”
The outfit that Andreev hired to conduct the investigation, Peninsula Group, is a British human resources and employment law consultancy firm. Badoo has hired Peninsula Group before, including in July 2018 for a human resources case after a female employee accused a male employee of inappropriate touching during a summer company party. The male employee was fired, but he appealed. A spokesperson for Badoo said the company hired Peninsula Group as a result of the appeal. Peninsula concluded that the employee’s termination had been too harsh, and he was rehired. The male employee was moved to a different floor after the female employee stated she did not want regular interaction with him.