Whitney Wolfe Herd, the co-founder of the dating app Bumble, became the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world. According to Forbes, at market close Thursday night, Wolfe Herd’s net worth was at $1.5 billion.
Wolfe Herd founded Bumble in 2014 as a dating app geared toward making women feel comfortable. Like Tinder, the app is location based, but the difference is that on Bumble, in heterosexual matches, only the woman can choose to make first contact.
Wolfe Herd founded the company shortly after she sued her former employer, Tinder, for sexual harassment. Her former boyfriend and boss allegedly sent her threats and derogatory text messages. He also allegedly stripped her of her “cofounder” title at the dating app. The case was eventually settled confidentially, although reports claimed she received $1 million as a settlement. It seemingly inspired her to start her own company and dating app, this time with an approach more centered on female empowerment.
According to Bumble’s SEC filing, over 70% of Bumble’s board is made up of women. Wolfe Heard also has pushed for legislation in Texas, where Bumble is based, that would make digital sexual harassment, i.e. sending lewd photos without permission, a crime.
On Thursday several hours after the market opened, Bumble went public with a definitively successful IPO.
Bumble stock opened at $76 a share, which was significantly higher than its initial IPO price of $43. By the end of the day on Thursday, the shares were valued at $70.55, making Wolfe Heard a billionaire and then some.
Wolfe Heard owns 21.54 million shares of Bumble, which is roughly 12% of the company. In 2019, her business partner Andrey Andreev left the company amidst accusations of fostering a sexist company culture in the London office he operated, and sold his stake of the company to a private equity firm called the Blackstone Group.
Despite the incident, Bumble has recovered gracefully and is now flourishing on the public market. It’s only the second major dating app to ever go public. The first was Match Group, which owns Match.com and Tinder and formerly employed Wolfe Heard. That company went public in 2015.
After yesterday’s IPO for Bumble, Wolfe Herd also became the youngest female CEO to ever take a company public.