Whitney Wolfe Herd, the co-founder and CEO of Bumble Inc., who held her baby when her company floated, has influenced the way online dating works more than anyone else. After taking Bumble public, she became the world's youngest female self-made billionaire.
Through empowering women both via the Bumble app and in the workplace, Whitney is proving that gender equality is not only right – it’s profitable.
Although speaking about her success, Whitney said,
“Hopefully this will not be a rare headline [in the future]. Hopefully this will be the norm”.
Whitney began her tumultuous relationship with online dating in 2012, when she joined the Tinder development team alongside Rad and Chris Gulczynski. After quickly being promoted to Vice President of Marketing – and reportedly coming up with the name “Tinder” – Whitney was credited with drastically increasing Tinder’s popularity and significantly growing its userbase.
In 2014, she left due to tensions with other executives and filed a lawsuit against the company for sexual harassment, receiving over $1million plus stock as part of the settlement.
This shaped Whitney’s vision and pushed her to create something very different, in a letter to investors she wrote:
“I have experienced first-hand how unequal relationships negatively impact all areas of life. I wanted to change this.”
With the backing of Russian billionaire Audrey Andreev (the founder of online dating site Badoo), Whitney launched Bumble in 2014. The app was founded on the idea that, to avoid many of the pitfalls of online dating, women should be given more power and control.
This amounted to simply giving women the ability to message first. Though a straightforward enough modification to the traditional dating app setup, it proved revolutionary. It also proved incredibly popular. In fact, the company has become so popular (it currently has more than 60 million users) that when it went public in February 2021, it made Whitney world’s youngest self-made female billionaire.
To those looking to start their own business, Whitney’s words of wisdom are:
“Figure out what you’re passionate about and if you’re really good at it, there’s some way to turn it into a business […] I think anybody can make money at something they are good at.”
Though this is certainly true, success also requires business acumen, determination and grit – all of which Whitney has in abundance. After all, you don’t get on a Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list without demonstrating exceptional levels of influence and leadership.
With her sights firmly set on continuing to make the world a better, more equitable place – Whitney recently helped craft legislation to make so-called “cyberflashing” (ability to send unsolicited obscene pictures to strangers over wifi networks) illegal – I think it’s fair to say that we can expect to see much more from the world’s youngest self-made billionaire in the near future.
I am personally excited to see her set a positive example to other women and girls to inspire them to start and lead something of their own.
We need more positive female role models of all kinds.
To find out the kind of work we do at HVO Search to encourage more women in the C-Suite and Boardrooms, get in touch.