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64% SURGE: Bumble founder a billionaire after wild IPO

Anastasia Santoreneos
·3-min read
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and CEO of Bumble speaks on stage during keynote conversation at 2019 Watermark Conference for Women Silicon Valley at San Jose McEnery Convention Center on February 22, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage)
64% SURGE: Bumble founder a billionaire after wild IPO. Source: Getty

There’s a new billionaire in town.

US entrepreneur and Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd has shot to billionaire status, after her company went public in the US on Thursday.

The dating app, which lets women make the first move, priced its shares at US$43 apiece in its trading debut, and sold 50 million shares.

Shares closed up 63.5 per cent higher on the Nasdaq on Thursday to US$70.31 per share, after climbing as high as 85 per cent to US$79.60 per share. Wolfe Herd owns around 21.5 million shares in the company, taking her stake in the dating app to nearly US$1.6 billion (AU$2.1 billion).

Wolfe Herd is the youngest female founder to take a company public in the US.

“We’re very focused on aggressive international growth,” Wolfe Herd said.

Bumble already has more than 4 million users in Australia.

Who is Whitney Wolfe Herd?

Wolfe Herd is the founder and CEO of Bumble, a dating app that launched in 2014 and allows women to make the first move in a conversation.

Before that, Wolfe Herd was part of the development team for the dating app Tinder, and co-founded it with Sean Rad and Chris Gulczynski.

She later went on to become vice president of marketing of Tinder, and was also reportedly behind the naming of the app.

Tensions with Tinder

In 2014 she left the company due to growing tensions amongst executives, and later filed a lawsuit against Tinder and its parent company IAC for sexual harassment.

Wolfe Herd claimed she was called a “whore” and “gold digger” by her ex-boss and ex-boyfriend, and that after she broke up with co-founder Justin Mateen, he became “verbally controlling and abusive” toward her.

In 2014, Forbes reported that Wolfe Herd settled the lawsuit without admission of wrongdoing for US$1 million.

Bumble was born

But from the flames, Wolfe Herd created Bumble, choosing to capitalise on an underserved market: women.

When she launched the company, she said: "The power lunch is no longer just for men...We all deserve a seat at the table."

While Bumble allows people to match for free, it makes its money from in-app purchases like Bumble Boost and Bumble Premium.

But she didn’t intend to start Bumble, instead, she received an unsolicited email from London-based Russian entrepreneur Andrey Andreev, who founded dating social network Badoo in 2006.

Eventually, the two decided to join forces to start a dating app. The deal was Andreev would make an initial investment of around $10 million, with 79 per cent of the company, while Wolfe Herd would be the CEO and 20 per cent owner.

Former Tinder executives Gulczynski and Sarah Mick joined in, and eventually settled on Bumble in its current form.

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