Wolfe Herd, Bumble's 31-Year-Old CEO becomes a Female Billionaire
Wolfe Herd, the 31-year-old female founder of Bumble, a company catering to women and led by women has become a billionaire. Shares of Bumble Inc., the owner of the dating app where women make the first move, soared 67% in its trading debut to $72 at 1:03 p.m. in New York, valuing Chief Executive Officer Whitney Wolfe Herd’s stake at $1.5 billion.
The listing caps a saga that’s both inspirational and cautionary tale for women tech founders. Wolfe Herd capitalized on an underserved market and built a multibillion-dollar company that was in a sense born from one of the most vexing obstacles to women entrepreneurs: sexual harassment. “Hopefully this will not be a rare headline,” Wolfe Herd said, referring to the uniqueness of Bumble’s women-led management. “Hopefully this will be the norm. It’s the right thing to do, it’s a priority for us and it should be a priority for everyone else.”
Bumble’s IPO launches Wolfe Herd into a rarefied club of self-made female billionaires. While women make up about half of the global population, self-made women -- mostly from Asia -- account for less than 5% of the world’s 500 biggest fortunes, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Self-made men comprise almost two-thirds of the wealth index.
Of the 559 companies that have gone public in the U.S. over the past 12 months, only two, aside from Bumble, were founded by women. It’s the same with blank-check firms, Wall Street’s favored wealth-boosting vehicle of the moment. Women-sponsored SPACs totaled fewer than a dozen, a fraction of the 349 that were listed in the past year. That means women are largely being left behind in what’s likely the fastest wealth-creation boom in history. Last year the world’s 500 richest people gained $1.8 trillion, yet 91% of that windfall went to men.
Wolfe initially wanted to create a female-only social network for women to send each other compliments but ended up focusing on match-making on the advice of Russian tech billionaire Andrey Andreev, the founder of dating app Badoo. With Andreev’s backing, Wolfe Herd created Bumble as a service “by women, for women,” touting it as a place where women were empowered and harassment was rigorously policed. It’s become the second-most popular dating app in the U.S. with the help of advertisements bearing tag lines such as: “Be the CEO your parents always wanted you to marry.”
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