Whitney Wolfe Herd is the CEO and founder of the popular dating mobile phone app Bumble. At the age of 29, she has created an empire connecting friends, lovers and business opportunities, and the company is valued at $1 billion by Forbes.
The idea comes after the creation of arguably one of Bumble’s fiercest competitors, Tinder, which is currently valued at $3 billion. The firm, founded in 2012, was the world’s first mobile phone dating app and matched people based on their geographical location. Wolfe Herd was one of the masterminds and co-founders behind the pioneering dating app.
However, it was back in 2014 when she left the company amid allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination against another of the company’s co-founders. The lawsuit was eventually settled with Wolfe Herd describing the traumatic ordeal as “leaving behind an abandoned life, fleeing from the storm or whatever it was”.
Despite the pain suffered after the events, she used the experience as a learning tool to later pursue her new business idea. Her newborn endeavour was a female-only social network named ‘Merci’. Wolfe Herd describes the ideas of the app as being “rooted in compliments, kindness and good behaviour.”
During the drafting of her new networking app, founder and CEO of online dating site Badoo Andrey Andreev contacted her. Andreev saw her departure from Tinder as a business opportunity and took the chance to offer Wolfe Herd a position as Chief Marketing Officer of Badoo, but Wolf without hesitation turned down his offer.
Unwilling to work within the business of dating apps again, she shifted her attention onto her new female-only social network idea ‘Merci’. Seeing the uprising of the app as another potential dating app, Andreev offered Herd an initial $10 million in funding for a 79% stake in the firm and thus complement Badoo’s offering. Andreev also would allow Wolfe Herd full access to Badoo’s technical team and ability to tap into Badoo’s software and systems.
Although hesitant at first, Wolfe Herd later contemplated “What if women make the first move, send the first message? And if they don’t, the match disappears after 24 hours, like in Cinderella, the pumpkin and the carriage?” she told Forbes.
Therefore, in December 2014, the first female-first dating app Bumble was born. The name Bumble was settled following conflicts in the company’s trademark search. The app within its first month had 100,000 downloads, with Wolfe Herd putting women in control and the companies billboards preaching the success of the app.
Wolfe Herd in the creation of the app aimed to solve a familiar problem. Despite the advancements, women had made within the workforce and within society, the dating world seemed far too outdated.
By giving women the first move, Wolfe Herd looked to disrupt the traditional dynamic of dating which often left her female co-workers, friends and family waiting for men to ask them out.
After 5 years, Bumble has grown its user base to 47 million, hence becoming America’s fastest growing dating app with 70% year over year. The app has been introducing new features since launching, such as the BFF app released in 2016 which allows women to find friends or the Bizz app that connects working women for the purpose of career networking.
Bumble has allowed its users to make over 2 billion matches on their own terms, whether searching for a romantic partner, new friend or networking for career growth. The app perhaps would not have reached its high level of success had it not been for Whitney Wolfe Herd’s extraordinary leadership and vision of a different dating world.