Can we all just agree: dating nowadays is...weird.
Dating apps have been branded as the modern solution to our modern problems when, more often than not, they’re the cause of those problems. There’s the big kahuna, Tinder. Or Hinge, for the “sophisticated” dater. And then there’s Bumble, the app centered around women making the first move.
Maybe I’m biased (actually, I know I am — I reconnected with my now-fiancée on the app, which I never imagined happening), but there’s just something different about Bumble. As most of us are painfully aware, trying to meet people on an app can very quickly go south when you match with a guy who’s not even all that interested in you, just your boundaries and how willing you are to compromise on them. With Bumble, the power is completely in your hands which gives you the ability to steer the conversation in the direction you want, if you choose to start one at all.
Naturally, it takes a creative kind of person to come up with this kind of concept, and Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd isn’t just your typical tech figure or company CEO. Here’s just a glimpse of the woman who’s changing the modern dating scene and making billions in the process.
Rebounding from Tinder
Wolfe Herd, raised in Salt Lake City, started out as every entrepreneur’s dream. In college, she headed up a non-profit organization which made bamboo tote bags, the proceeds of which were donated to help the cleanup of the BP oil spill. She also created a fair-trade clothing line to raise money for human trafficking causes.
After traveling through Southeast Asia post-graduation, Wolfe Herd went to work for Hatch Labs, a tech innovation company. She was part of the original team on a project called Matchbox, which eventually became Tinder. Wolfe Herd served as Tinder’s vice-president of marketing and left after two years, but her departure wasn’t exactly friendly.
Wolfe Herd wanted to create an empowering, female-centered social media site for women.
As she tells it, Wolfe Herd left Tinder in 2014. But not long after, she filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment (which was later settled out of court for over $1 million) against two Tinder co-founders, one of whom was her former boyfriend, Justin Mateen. As she tells it, she and Mateen were in a relationship for about a year, but following their breakup, he became controlling and abusive, essentially forcing her out of the company. In 2016, though, Wolfe Herd was quick to tell Grazia that the lawsuit wasn’t about the money — it was about the disrespect she, as a founding partner of Tinder, faced in her own workplace culture. She even came up with the name ‘Tinder’ and was responsible for growing the platform to its heightened success among younger, college-aged adults.
Following the settlement with her former company, Wolfe Herd didn’t rest on her laurels. She’d always had a vision of creating an empowering and female-centered social media site for women, and she did just that by creating Bumble, a dating app where only women can make the first move, with business partner Andrey Andreev.
Step Aside, Kylie
Bumble has stood its ground the past few years, especially in the face of changes to its platform like global expansion and monetization of certain advanced features. It’s even made a name for itself alongside huge competitors like Wolfe Herd’s former company. But those in the industry and even consumers knew nothing would reveal more about how well the company was predicted to thrive than going public.
Wolfe Herd is the youngest self-made female billionaire at age 31.
Which it did, just a few weeks ago. And now, with her 12% stake in the company, Wolfe Herd is personally worth an estimated $1.5 billion, making her the youngest (truly) self-made female billionaire at age 31 (*cough* Kylie Jenner).
Why Bumble’s Success Matters
Bumble’s IPO is a thing of beauty in and of itself after Wolfe Herd’s personal history with her competitors, but there’s more to it. Wolfe Herd didn’t just open the Nasdaq in a cute yellow outfit — the signature color of her company — she also did it while holding her son Bo in her arms. (The photo appeared on Bumble’s Instagram page with the caption, “This is what leadership looks like.”)
As women, we’re given a lot of input on the type of women we’re supposed to be. Young, skinny, successful, driven, just to name a few. But nowhere in any of those categories do kids seem to fall into that ideal of the modern woman.
And why ever not? If Wolfe Herd can take her company public, holding her child while she does it, why are the rest of us thinking so small? Why do we limit ourselves to picking one over the other?
There’s a lot of input we’re given on the “what you should be” not “what you can be,” but the great thing is, we get to decide that for ourselves, and Wolfe Herd is the perfect example of that. She pursued her passion even without knowing what it was at first, and ensured that women and their voices were the sole focus of the movement she initiated. Everything else fell into place, but not without her hard work and dedication.
As you can probably guess, I owe a lot to Whitney Wolfe Herd. Not just for giving me the chance to reconnect with an old friend who eventually became so much more, though that’s certainly top of the list.
Every young woman can probably see some of themselves in her. I know I can. We followed her through Tinder, cheered with her when she left, watched hesitantly as she started her own company, and celebrated when she took that company to the public. Her business, and her family, are a testament to everything we can achieve. We’re not limited by our bad interactions, our bullies, or by the question “What do I do next?” As Wolfe Herd (and Bumble) have proven time and time again, that’s when things really get interesting.