Whitney Wolfe Herd - American entrepreneur

Whitney Wolfe Herd - American entrepreneur

Whitney Wolfe Herd is an American entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of Tinder, and the founder and CEO of Bumble Inc. which operates the dating apps Bumble and Badoo.

Wolfe Herd was born to a Catholic mother and a Jewish real estate developer father. When she was in the sixth grade at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, her family took a year-long sabbatical in Paris and introduced her to France.

She later attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where she majored in international studies, joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and spent a semester at the University of Paris-Sorbonne in France as an exchange student abroad.

While in college, at only 20 years old, she started a business selling bamboo tote bags to benefit areas affected by the BP oil spill. She teamed up with celebrity stylist Patrick Aufdenkamp to launch the nonprofit organization called "Help Us Project," and the bags received national media coverage after celebrities such as Rachel Zoe and Nicole Richie were photographed with them.

Soon after, she launched a second business with Aufdenkamp called "Tender Heart," a clothing line dedicated to raising awareness about fair trade and against human trafficking.

With a degree in hand, she traveled to Southeast Asia where she worked with orphanages. In 2012, at the age of 22, Wolfe Herd joined the startup Cardify, a project led by Sean Rad that was later abandoned. She then joined the development team of the dating app Tinder, and later became the vice president of marketing. Formerly named MatchBox, Wolfe Herd is said to have come up with the name Tinder, which was inspired by the flame logo and the idea of tinder, an easily combustible material used to start a fire. She is also credited with fueling the app's popularity on college campuses and growing its user base.

In April 2014, she resigned from Tinder due to growing tensions with her ex-partner and co-founder of the app, Justin Mateen. A few months later, she sued him for sexual harassment, accusing him of sending her threats and other inappropriate messages, and for evicting her from the company she co-founded with him. The case would have been settled quickly and in confidence, and Wolfe Herd would have received a million dollars in damages.

Also a victim of many hateful messages online, Wolfe Herd started to think about a women-only social network focused on positive sharing and compliments that was to be called Thanks. Eventually, and although she initially did not want to return to the dating industry, she cooperated in the following months with Badoo founder Andrey Andreev to develop a new dating app adapted for women. Thus, they founded Bumble in December 2014. Unlike Tinder, this app allows women to send the first message after a "match", thereby reducing the risk of sexual harassment.

Her idea for Bumble came from a specific scenario she had always imagined in her head while working at Tinder: "I always wanted to have a scenario where the guy didn’t have my number but I had his". She believes that allowing women to make the first move is a powerful change. Giving women the first move is also about giving them confidence and control, and it's not a concept exclusive to the love and dating world. "I have experienced first-hand how unequal relationships negatively impact all areas of life. I wanted to change this." "Do I think by a woman making the first move on Bumble we’re going to solve every women’s issue around the world? No. Do I think it’s a good first step to recalibrate an age-old system that sets us all up for failure, men and women? Yes. Because the Internet has megapower to shift behavior–if you use it for good."

In March 2019, Wolfe Herd testifies before the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on the prevalence of unsolicited explicit photos sent to female users on dating apps. The following month, she publishes the first print issue of Bumble Mag in partnership with Hearst. In November of that same year, Bumble's parent company, MagicLab, was sold to private equity firm The Blackstone Group. Wolfe Herd became CEO of MagicLab, which was valued at $3 billion and had about 75 million users, and received about a 19% stake in the company.


In February 2021, Wolfe Herd became the youngest female CEO to list her company on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, a giant step for "femtech" (a gathering of innovations that support women), and offered a beautiful image by ringing the Nasdaq bell with her 18-month-old son in her arm. On that same day, she shared on Twitter: "Today, @Bumble becomes a public company. This is only possible thanks to the more than 1.7 billion first moves made by brave women on our app — and the pioneering women who paved the way for us in the business world. To everyone who made today possible: Thank you. #BumbleIPO".

"The stock market welcomed the new arrival. Shares rose to $76 at the opening, higher than the rate offered to public investors the day before. That puts the company's valuation at $14.1 billion. But Whitney Wolfe Herd and lead investor Blackstone, remain the only masters on board for now. She retains the majority of voting rights to be able to implement her development plan. Her management team is also predominantly female." (challenges.fr)

Her company Bumble Inc also funds the UK-based gay dating app Chappy, co-founded by Jack Rogers, Max Cheremkin and Ollie Locke.

At the Aspen Ideas Festival 2022 in Colorado, Wolfe Herd spoke out about being underestimated. According to her, it can be quite beneficial. Being rejected or ignored invites you to work harder or seek out someone who will recognize your skills, no matter if you're just starting out or changing direction mid-career. "I personally love being underestimated. I think it’s a total superpower. I think I’ve trained myself to be motivated by people who say ‘no’ and create energy from that."

When she introduced Bumble to early investors, there was an immediate problem with women initiating conversations with their partners. According to them, women wouldn't want to ask men out, and men wouldn't sign up for the app because it went against societal norms. For Wolfe Herd, this rejection didn't make Bumble a bad idea, quite the opposite. She began to see it as a new idea that people just didn't know how to visualize yet. "I just retrained my brain from Day on: Every time I got a hurtful email or tweet or some investor telling me the idea for Bumble was stupid, I just got really excited about it. People generally don’t know how to see things that don’t exist yet, so you just have to believe in yourself."

For Wolfe Herd, being underestimated also gives you the element of surprise. If they don't see you as a threat, neither will they see you coming when you are ready to take the lead. When Bumble went public, she received several very heartfelt messages, and even apologies, from journalists and reputable people who initially thought Bumble would never work. "If everybody thought it was going to work, it would have already been done. That’s really how you create a gap in the market for yourself."

As of September 2019, Tinder and Bumble were the first and second most popular dating apps in the United States, with respective monthly user bases of 7.9 million and 5 million.

In 2020 and 2022, Forbes respectively ranked her number 39 and 33, in the top 100 "richest self-made-women in America." In February 2021, she became the world's youngest self-made-women billionaire when she introduced Bumble to the stock market. She is also the youngest woman (at 31) to take a company public.


© Photo: TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2018 - CC BY 2.0

© Article par Julie Poutrel pour Adama Toulon