For helping women make the first move—in one swipe
What if women ran the internet? The question feels more thought exercise than business plan, but Whitney Wolfe Herd has always been a woman of action.
She co-founded Tinder. The dating app became a cultural phenomenon by letting users simply swipe their way to potential matches—a high-tech version of Hot or Not. After being ousted, she sued for sexual harassment, ultimately settling out of court.
She bounced back with Bumble. Rather than retreat, she developed a new dating platform in which women are the only ones allowed to initiate contact. The success was swift and meteoric—creating what is now a community of 80 million spanning six continents.
She expanded the Bumble empire. Wolfe Herd has since branched out from dating with Bumble extensions to help women find friends (BFF) and network professionally (Bizz). The company also created filters across all three areas that let users sift through potential matches by a set of specific criteria, allowing Bizz users, for example, to align matches with their industry of choice.
Along with the upgrades, one of the company’s big projects was an expansion into India, a huge market but one laden with risk given India’s high rate of sexual violence. Working with actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Wolfe Herd customized the app to be available in Hindi and “Hinglish” (a combination of Hindi and English), and defaulted to showing only the first initial of a woman’s name in “Date” mode.
Last year, Wolfe Herd moved the company into IRL events. And her Bumble Fund throws early-stage venture capital funding behind women-run businesses. The portfolio includes nine companies so far, backing everything from swimwear to an AI-powered platform for entrepreneurs.
She took over MagicLab.
Late last year, Wolfe Herd was named CEO of MagicLab, parent company to Bumble and several other dating apps with a combined user base of 500 million and a valuation at that time of US$3 billion. Today she manages amid a new COVID-19 reality, helping the company navigate the new normal of social distancing. Her message to users was simple: “Please don’t meet your Bumble matches IRL for now.” Instead, the company launched a slew of projects aimed at easing virtual dating. Bumble even lined up musician Common and actress Tiffany Haddish to show off the new features—with the couple donating US$50,000 to Bumble’s Community Grants program, Wolfe Herd’s push to help small businesses negotiate the pandemic.