When shares of the famous dating app, Bumble, soared in its IPO on 11 February 2021, the company’s 31-year-old founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, became the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire. Her 12% stake in the company was worth $1.6 billion at 12:40 p.m EST on that day. Bumble stocks opened at $76 – way higher than its initial IPO price of $43 per share. Bumble also topped $13 billion in valuation.
According to Bumble’s announcement, the Founder Wolfe Herd owns 21.54 million shares, which is equivalent to 11.6% of the company. Along with being the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, she is also the youngest female CEO ever to take a company public in the U.S.
A bit about Bumble
As of September 2019, Tinder and Bumble were the first and second most popular dating apps in the U.S., with monthly user bases of 7.9 million and 5 million, respectively. In 2017, the company Match Group, the parent company of the famous dating app Match.com, tried to buy Bumble for $450 million. At $76 a share early Thursday (11 February) afternoon, Bumble’s market capitalization is $8.6 billion. On the other hand, Match Group, which also owns the dating app Tinder, has a $45 billion market capitalization.
Bumble reported revenue of $417 million in the first nine months of 2020, which is $54 million more than the revenue reported over the same time frame in 2019, $363 million. Match Group is a bigger company, also reported $1.7 billion in revenue in the first nine months of 2020 and an amount of $1.5 billion in the year before that.
As a result of the public offering, the Austin-based company raised a whopping amount – $2.2 billion. It is said that most of the funds raised in the offering, will be used to either purchase or redeem shares from its pre-IPO owners, namely, private equity firm Blackstone, which owned nearly 91% before the offering, and Wolfe Herd. The prospectus also mentions a $120 million loan that the company had given to Wolfe Herd in January 2020. The loan was anyway settled a year later after Wolfe Herd forfeited her $95.5 million worth of Bumble shares.
Whitney Wolfe’s journey
Whitney Wolfe Herd was born on July 1, 1989. Before Bumble, Whitney Wolfe worked for Tinder, another famous dating app. At age 22, Wolfe Herd started working with Hatch Labs. Through that, she got involved with the startup Cardify, a project led by Sean Rad through Hatch Labs IAC incubator. Even though the project was later abandoned, Whitney Wolfe joined the development team for the dating app Tinder, in the year 2012, with Rad and Chris Gulczynski, within the IAC startup incubator. She soon became the vice president of marketing for the company and was even responsible for fueling its popularity on college campuses.
She sued the company for sexual harassment right before she founded Bumble in the year 2014. She claimed that Justin Mateen, her former boss, and boyfriend, had sent derogatory texts and threats. Supposedly, he even stripped her of her co founder title at Tinder. Despite all the allegations, Tinder denied any wrongdoing, and the case was settled quickly and confidentially.
After she quit Tinder, Whitney Wolfe worked with a London-based Russian billionaire, Andrey Andreev, to start Bumble. Andrey Andreev had been building successful online dating apps for the Latin American and European markets. While other dating apps allow both men and women to make the first more, Bumble allows only women to make the outreach first. This stands out as a huge differentiating factor from Tinder and any other online dating apps. In April 2019, Wolfe released the first print issue of Bumble Mag in partnership with Hearst.
In 2019, Forbes published an investigation that found allegations of a misogynistic atmosphere in the London office, which was under Andrey Andreev’s leadership. Four months after this was out, Andrey Andreev exited the company in November 2019. The majority of the allegations were denied by the company and an internal investigation was launched, It concluded that the allegation made by the Forbes article is incorrect.
Bumble’s parent company, MagicLab, was sold in November 2019, to the private equity firm The Blackstone Group. Co-founder Andrey Andreev relinquished his entire stake in both Bumble and its sister company Badoo. Whitney Wolfe became the CEO of the newly acquired MagicLab and was valued at $3 billion, with an estimated 75 million users. She received an ownership stake of 19% of the company. In the year 2020, Bumble replaced MagicLab and was the new parent company of both Bumble and Badoo.
Apart from this, Whitney Wolfe has also invested in a UK-based gay dating app, Chappy, which was co-founded by Jack Rogers, Max Cheremkin, and Ollie Locke. With very few numbers of women investors in the business world, Whitney Wolfe stands as an example to all other women. It was also said that Bumble would be offering product development and marketing support to the company.
Despite the rocky journey, Whitney Wolfe was named as one of the Business Insider’s 30 Most Important Women Under 30 In Tech in 2014. She was also named as one of Elle’s Women in Tech in 2016. Not to forget, she was mentioned in the Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017 and 2018, in the Time 100 List in 2018, and in December 2017, she was listed in a TechCrunch feature on 42 women succeeding in tech that year. Whitey Wolfe worked towards women empowerment and is one of the most successful women who has led herself to become the youngest self-made women billionaire. With Bumble being an international business, it has got a lot of potential on the stage for a very long time. Hence, we can say, Whitney Wolfe here to stay and achieve a lot of milestones in the near future.