Maybe you’ve swiped right or left on Bumble, and if you haven’t you definitely know someone who has. The Business of Apps says in 2020 Bumble hit 100 million users.
The woman behind the app that’s on millions of phones around the world was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. The CEO of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe Herd has been a feminist from an early age, she disliked how Utah’s dating culture was dominated by men — women were expected to wait for them to make the first move.
Wolfe Herd wanted dating to feel more modern saying “I know guys get sick of making the first move all the time. Why does a girl feel like she should sit and wait around? Why is there this standard that, as a woman, you can get your dream job but you can’t talk to a guy first?”
At 31, she’s the youngest woman CEO to take her company public in 2021. Wolfe Herd launched her first business at 19 while still in college at Southern Methodist University in Texas. Designing tote bags that could be sold to help fund relief efforts after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill which pumped crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for five months in 2010.
While Wolfe Herd is the CEO of Bumble, it isn’t the first dating app she co-founded. At 22, Wolfe Herd was hired to work at startup incubator Hatch Labs in Los Angeles. After hours, she starting collaborating with a group that was looking to build a dating app.
That app, which is now known as Tinder, quickly grew into a global phenomenon with Wolfe Herd’s help. She even came up with the name Tinder. She’s credited as a cofounder and spent two years as the company’s vice president of marketing.
During her tenure at Tinder, Wolfe Herd dated fellow co-founder and her then-boss Justin Mateen. She left the company shortly after they split, and filed a lawsuit alleging that she had experienced sexual harassment and discrimination.
The legal dispute was settled privately outside of court, with neither party admitting to wrongdoing.
Following the legal battle, Wolfe Herd also faced online harassment.
“I was inundated with hatred online, lots of aggressive behavior, people calling me names, really painful things that I’d never experienced,” There were dark times when I thought, ‘Well, this is it. I won’t have a career ever again. I’m 24, coming out of one of the world’s hottest tech companies, but the internet hates me.’ It was a horrible time. Then I woke up one morning and thought, ‘I’m going to rebuild myself.'”
Wolfe Herd launched Bumble in 2014, originally planning to build a female-focused social network instead of a dating app.
She was persuaded to forgo her original plan for the app by former business partner and Russian billionaire Andrey Andreev.
In addition to being Wolfe Herd’s close friend and business partner who she said she was incredibly in sync with. Andreev owned a 79% stake in Bumble.
After the allegations of racism and sexism against Andreev were published by Forbes in 2019, Wolfe Herd released a statement saying she had had “nothing but positive and respectful” experiences with Andreev but “would never challenge someone’s feelings or experiences.”
“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,” Wolfe Herd said in the statement. “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.”
Wolfe Herd has been helping outlaw digital sexual harassment in Texas, and is advocating for a similar law in California hoping it will soon be federal law as well. Sending unsolicited nude photos which has been a phenomenon that has plagued dating apps is punishable under the new law championed Bumble’s CEO.
Wolfe Herd married Texas oil heir Michael Herd in an elegant three-day ceremony on Italy’s Amalfi Coast in 2017.
The two first met while skiing in Aspen in 2013, but no coincidence Wolfe Herd first saw him on a dating app.
He’s now the president of the oil and gas field operator founded by his late grandfather, Herd Producing Company, and also owns a high-end farm to table restaurant. The couple have a son named Bobby.
The sky is the limit for Wolfe Herd after Bumble made a good first impression in its initial public offering last month its stock ended its first day of trading 64% above the IPO price, though it’s pulled back a bit since then.
Before her IPO – her multimillion-dollar fortune landed her at No. 39 on Forbes’ list of wealthiest self-made women in America in 2020.
“I feel like what I’m doing is quite important,” Wolfe Herd said “A lot of people are, like, ‘What do you mean it’s important? It’s a dating app.’ But it’s important because connections are at the root everything we do. Human connection defines our happiness and our health. This company feels like a piece of me. I know this sounds cheesy and weird, but I really feel like it’s my mission.”
Thank you, Whitney for magical connections, countless marriages and beautiful new lives you’ve helped bring into this world!