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Bumble’s 31-year-old CEO becomes ‘rare female billionaire’

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Bumble’s 31-year-old CEO becomes ‘rare female billionaire’

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Dating app Bumble, where only women can make the first move, soared 64 percent in its market debut, valuing the company Chief Executive Officer Whitney Wolfe Herd’s stake at $1.5 billion.

Bumble’s 31-year-old CEO becomes ‘rare female billionaire’
Dating app Bumble, where only women can make the first move, soared 64 percent in its market debut, valuing the company Chief Executive Officer Whitney Wolfe Herd’s stake at $1.5 billion.
The Texas-headquartered company’s stock closed at $70.31 in New York, putting its value at roughly $13 billion including debt. It raised $2.15 billion with its initial public offering (IPO) and had its share jump over 80 percent during the early minutes of trading. The shares had debuted at $43 apiece.
The stunning IPO catapults 31-year-old Wolfe Herd into a rare league of self-made female billionaires. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, self-made women make for less than 5 per cent of the world’s biggest fortunes even though the females constitute nearly half of the world’s population. Two-thirds of the wealth index is occupied by self-made men.
It is interesting to note that out of the 559 companies that have gone public in the US during the past 12 months, only three, including Bumble, have women founders.
By catering to an underserved market, Wolfe Herd went on to build a multibillion-dollar company that aimed to obliterate one of the most common yet terrifying experiences of women entrepreneurs — sexual harassment.
“Hopefully this will not be a rare headline,” Wolfe Herd, the youngest woman to take a large company public in the U.S. as CEO, was quoted as saying in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday, in reference to the uniqueness of Bumble’s female-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,” she added.
In fact, it was harassment that led Wolfe Herd to quit Tinder, which she had co-founded, and launch Bumble as competition in 2014. The split was marked by a sexual harassment lawsuit in which Wolfe Herd mentioned being repeatedly called derogatory names by executives and stripped of her position as a co-founder because having a “girl” in such a role “makes the company seem like a joke”. The lawsuit was, however, settled later.
Although Wolfe Herd was initially focussed on creating a women-only social network, she settled for match-making following the advice of Russian tech billionaire and founder of dating app Badoo, Andrey Andreev. That’s how Bumble was born as a “by women, for women” service with a strict policy against harassment.
When Blackstone Group Inc. bought a majority stake in Bumble’s owner for nearly $3 billion last year, she took over from Andreev. As part of the agreement, she received about $125 million in cash as well as a $119 million loan that has been fully repaid. At that time, Andreev had told Bloomberg that he was “very comfortable handing the baton to Whitney” and that “she has proved to be very insightful and innovative in the dating space”.
Bumble has grown to become the second-most popular dating app in the US with catchy taglines like “Be the CEO your parents always wanted you to marry” drawing women’s attention.
In an interview on February 11 with Bloomberg Quint, Wolfe Herd expressed gratitude to other women who have paved the way before her. She added the Bumble IPO proceeds would be used to pay down debt as well as for pursuing acquisitions.
 
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