Whitney Wolfe Herd is a woman of many talents — wife, mother, entrepreneur, and the youngest woman to take a company public in the United States. Her app, Bumble, which was founded in 2014, has become one of the most popular dating platforms, with over 100 million subscribers since its creation. Despite the saturation of dating apps nowadays, Bumble emphasizes its uniqueness because of the ability of women to “make the first move.” In an online dating environment where women are often harassed and slut-shamed, Herd set out to make her app different and safer from all the others. In a Time Magazine interview, she states, “I’ve never had this healthy male relationship until I created it. I engineered an ecosystem of healthy male relationships in my life.”
Today, Bumble has connected over 8.6 billion users to each other in 237 countries and is valued at more than $14 billion dollars. The app makes a profit through in-app purchases and made over $300 million dollars last year alone. However, the road towards success was not always easy for Herd. The rise to the top for this CEO was littered with sexism, imposter syndrome and other obstacles she had to overcome.
Before the creation of Bumble, Herd worked for Tinder, and in June 2014, she publicly sued the company for sexual harassment. She alleged that her ex-boss and ex-boyfriend, Justin Mateen, called her derogatory names and sent threatening text messages. She also opened up about her experience at Tinder, which included men slut-shaming her and telling her to shut up. Once the public got wind of these allegations, Herd faced tremendous backlash from people online, which unfortunately happens to tons of women who publicly make sexual harassment allegations. “I was being told the ugliest things by complete strangers, and they were having full debates about me,” she recounts in an interview with Forbes Magazine. The dispute between Tinder and Herd was later settled for approximately $1 million dollars, and although Tinder denied any wrongdoing, Mateen was later suspended and stripped of his title at the company.
This experience changed Herd, and in doing so, ushered the way for Bumble. Scarred by the online harassment she endured, Herd’s original idea was to create an app where women could give each other compliments. However, the idea soon developed into a dating app, with women being in control for the first time. Women flocked to Bumble because of this new version of online dating, excited to be in control over their matches. The app implemented countless measures to ensure women's safety and comfort, including banning shirtless selfie pictures and imposing a fine for anyone who sent obscene images without consent. Bumble was also one of the first platforms to introduce identity verification, and in 2020, created a lengthy guideline around the consequences of slut-shaming. Women loved the environment that Bumble created so much so that the app transformed into both a friendship and career app as well. The company launched Bumble BFF in 2016, as a way for people to make platonic friendships, and implemented Bumble Bizz the following year, to help people network in the business world.
Gracious in her success, Whitney Wolfe Herd took her personal negative experiences and toxicity in previous work environments to fund a healthy and dedicated brand that is committed to women’s safety and success, whether it's with love, friendship, or their career. Today Whitney Wolfe Herd is one of very few female billionaires, and her vision of a safer Internet and female empowerment, all while battling online harassment, is truly an inspiration to women worldwide.