Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder and CEO of publicly traded Bumble, Inc, an online dating platform launched in 2014. Previously, she was Tinder’s co-founder and vice president of marketing. In February 2021, Wolfe Herd became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire when she took Bumble public.
Wolfe Herd was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her mother, Whitney Wolfe, was a Catholic and her father, Michael Wolfe, a Jewish real estate developer. Wolfe Herd attended Judge Memorial Catholic High School. When she was in sixth grade, the family went on sabbatical in Paris, France.
She later did international studies at Southern Methodist University. She was also a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma student club. Still in college, at the age of 20, she started a business selling bamboo carrier bags to areas affected by the BP oil spill. She teamed up with celebrity stylist Patrick Aufdenkamp to launch the non-profit organization “Help Us Project”. The bags made the national press after celebrities such as Rachel Zoe and Nicole Richie were photographed with them. Again together with Aufdenkamp she introduced a second act “Tender Heart”. This was a clothing line that worked to raise awareness about human trafficking and fairness. After graduating, Wolfe Herd traveled to Southeast Asia to work with orphanages.
In 2012, Wolfe Herd collaborated on the Cardify startup, a project led by Sean Rad through Hatch Labs’ IAC incubator. Wolfe was then 22 years old. The project was later dropped, but Wolfe Herd joined the development team for the dating app Tinder (formerly known as MatchBox) with Rad and Chris Gulczynski.
Wolfe Herd became vice president of marketing for Tinder. She loved the name of the app, inspired by the flame logo and the idea of tinder, an easily combustible material for making fire. She has also been credited with fueling her popularity on college campuses.
Wolfe Herd resigned in April 2014 due to growing tensions with other Tinder executives. She filed a lawsuit against Tinder for sexual harassment. As part of a settlement, she allegedly received more than $1 million and stock in September 2014.
Due to online hate, Wolfe Herd started sketching a social network “Merci”. It was for women only and centered around compliments. She initially did not want to return to the dating industry, but over the following months worked with Badoo founder Andrey Andreev to build a team and develop a new female-friendly dating app. They wanted to call that app “Moxie”, but this name was already taken.
Bumble, Inc. (2014 – present)
After Wolfe Herd left Tinder, Andrey Andreev, founder of Badoo, contacted her about setting up a dating platform and partnered with her. After moving to Texas in December 2014, she founded Bumble. Bumble was a female-focused dating app that reached over 15 million conversations and 80 million matches as of December 2015. The company will continue to be majority owned by Badoo.
As of November 2017, Bumble had over 22 million registered users. In January 2018, CNBC reported that Badoo was looking for a sale that could value the company at around $1.5 billion.
Wolfe Herd was named one of Business Insider’s 30 Most Important Women Under 30 in Technology in 2014. In 2016, she was named as one of Elle’s Women in Tech. She was named in Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017 and 2018.
In December 2017, she was featured in a TechCrunch article on 42 women who were successful in technology that year.
In 2018, she was named in the Time 100 List.
As of September 2019, Tinder and Bumble were the first and second most popular dating apps in the US, with monthly user bases of 7.9 million and 5 million, respectively.
In March 2019, Wolfe Herd testified before the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee about the prevalence of unsolicited explicit photos sent to female users through dating applications.
In April 2019, Wolfe released the first print edition of Bumble Mag in collaboration with Hearst.
In November 2019, MagicLab, Bumble’s parent company, was sold to private equity firm The Blackstone Group, with co-founder Andreev relinquishing his entire stake in both Bumble and its sister company Badoo. Wolfe Herd became CEO of the newly acquired $3 billion MagicLab with an estimated 75 million users, and received an ownership stake of approximately 19% of the company.
In 2020, Bumble replaced MagicLab as the parent company of both Bumble and Badoo. As of 2020, Bumble has over 100 million users worldwide.
In February 2021, Bumble surpassed $13 billion in post-listing valuation on the Nasdaq exchange. Her 18-month-old son was on her hip as she rang the Nasdaq bell.
In 2021, Wolfe Herd became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire after taking Bumble public. Forbes estimated her net worth at around $1.5 billion.
British gay dating app Chappy was co-founded by Jack Rogers, Max Cheremkin and Ollie Locke and funded primarily by Bumble and Wolfe Herd.