How Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd Became the World’s Youngest Self-Made Billionaire

For Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble helped her make the first move towards self-made billionaire status.

The popularity of dating apps exploded during the recent pandemic. With limitations on the original avenues of meeting others, people began to flock online in search of a connection.

One of the apps that quickly rose to the top of the plethora of options was Bumble. Unlike Tinder or other similar platforms, Bumble provided a safer outlet for people to communicate online. With a female forward approach of having women respond first, the app became the most consciously safe choice for people concerned with aggressive behaviors or online trolling associated with other apps.

The app garnered further support and viral buzz with the announcement of the Bumble BeeHive. This ambassador program provided sponsorships to some of the most popular vloggers, celebrities, and influencers including David Dobrik and Snoop Dogg. But the app also provided opportunities to several college students and recent graduates through programs where representatives can become Honies or Queen Bees.

The success of the viral marketing programs eventually caused the app to go public in February of 2021. The IPO was expected to sell 45 million shares at a range price of $37-$39. Instead, the company behind both Bumble and Badoo sold 50 million shares at $43 each and within a few days, shares had rose to over $76. The companies overall value skyrocketed and made Whitney Wolfe Heard the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. At 31 years old, her net worth exploded to $1.5 billion, shattering her previous net worth of Forbes estimation at $575 million.

Origins of the Brand

Prior to her work with Bumble, Whitney Wolfe Heard was actually the co-founder of the rival dating app, Tinder. In 2012, after graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Wolfe Herd became the vice president of marketing for Tinder. She left the company in 2014 after expressing concern over sexual assault allegations, eventually resulting in an undisclosed settlement with the company.

Whitney Wolfe Heard then teamed up with fellow dating app Badoo’s founder Andrey Andreev and together they founded Bumble in 2014. Designed to encourage women to make the first move, the innovate app quickly caught on with several generations of women. After the quick success in becoming one of the top dating apps within the app store, Heard landed on Forbes list of America’s most successful women entrepreneurs and executives in 2020. She also landed a spot on their 30 Under 30 list.

Going Public on Wall Street

The monumental moment for Whitney Wolfe Herd came when the Bumble brand first went public. After demolishing the initial expectations of the public offering, shares outperformed by 80% on their stock market debut. The instant success of their public offering increased the overall value of the company as well, creating a market cap of $14 billion. Wolfe Herd owns nearly 21.54 million shares of the company, resulting in about 11.6% of the company. The successful launch set another record for Wolfe Herd. She also became the youngest female chief executive to take a company public in America, according to FoxBusiness. With world-wide recognition, both Bumble and Badoo are fueled by tens of millions of monthly subscribers in over 150 countries.

The Future for Wolfe Herd and Bumble

Bumble is the second largest dating app to have gone public. Match Group, behind the popular site Match.com went public in 2015. Match Group had even attempted to buy Bumble back in 2017 for an estimated $450 million. With their IPO beating expectations, Wolfe Herd made the right decision to keep the company.

After going public, the company has continued to report an increase in revenue as well. During the first nine months of 2020, the company reported an increased revenue of $417 million, beating previous time frame from 2019 which was closer to $363 million. The first series of goals after releasing the IPO was to purchase or redeem shares from several pre-IPO owners. These include shares from Blackstone, who Wolfe Herd’s co-founder Andrey Andreev sold MagicLab to for nearly $3 billion the previous year. Blackstone, a private equity firm, owned nearly 91% prior to the public offering.

The promising changes in going public reflected some of the promising changes in Wolfe Herd’s personal life as well. She recently gave birth to a son named Bobby Lee “Bo” Herd II with her husband Michael Herd, a Texas oil heir and restauranteur. When she pushed the button at NASDAQ, making her company public, she did so while holding her new baby, ringing in a profitable and rewarding future. She shared a photo from the experience through the Bumble Instagram account, adorned with the caption “This is what leadership looks like.”

Wolfe Herd has demonstrated the power of women in both the corporate CEO world of business, but also within the world of the stock market. Her journey reflects the new future ahed for women-run brands and apps. While she made headlines for becoming the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, and for being the youngest female chief executive to take a company public in America, she is certain to not be the last.

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