The League, the dating startup that’s maybe-maybe-not elitist, is launching version 2.0 in a new city — Los Angeles.
Founder and CEO Amanda Bradford said The League has already rolled out the updated app to users in its existing markets, New York and San Francisco, without much fanfare. Today, however, marks the official launch, as well as the addition of its first city in nearly a year.
The League is best-known for the fact that users are screened before they can join (Bradford told me there are currently 100,000 people on the waitlist), leading to the aforementioned charges of elitism.
The screening process is still part of the app, but what’s new is a focus on events. Members will now be able to create interest groups with group chat and also organize events — for example, Bradford suggested they could create running groups or a “women’s wine circle.”
She added that while The League has organized events of its own, they weren’t really integrated into the app experience. Plus, they’re much more scalable now that the members can do the organizing.
Not that the new emphasis is supposed to eliminate dating or romance. It just means those connections can form around interests rather than at a giant bar meetup or on an “awkward coffee date.” The overall goal, Bradford said, is to turn The League into a “members-only club,” albeit one with “a killer singles scene.”
But let’s go back to Bradford’s bigger vision. In a blog post last fall, she wrote that her goals had less to do with elitism and more with creating a community that empowers ambitious women. (At the time, she blamed the media for distorting that message, though in our interview she also acknowledged that calling your app The League kind of invites those assumptions.)
When I asked her about the screening process, she said that the first step is just looking at Facebook and LinkedIn to make sure it’s not a spam account. She compared the process to college admissions — not in the sense that it’s limited to people who attended a prestigious universe, but in the sense that she wants to create “a diverse community.”
At the same time, Bradford said she stands by the idea that “you can tell a lot about a person from their career and education — they are proxies for ambition and drive and motivation.”
“This isn’t the rich kid snobby app,” she added. “This is about bringing together people that are progressively minded. I think changing the branding, changing our design, our look and feel a little bit, changing app to emphasize the community aspect, underlies our message there.”
It’s currently free to join The League, and Bradford said there will always be a free version, but her eventual goal is to also charge a monthly membership fee.