If you’re currently single, there’s a good chance that you’ve used the dating app Bumble. Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder, and CEO of Bumble, said she had a great support network when she was getting her young company off the ground. If you aren’t familiar with Bumble, it’s a dating app that requires women to initiate a match rather than men. As a woman, and one who had used dating apps not so long ago, it can be overwhelming to have men contact you. Not necessarily because of volume, but not all guys are nice. Which means, what they think is a clever or witty pickup line, can actually come across in a negative way. Which is one of the reasons that the app is doing so well.
Herd explains that her business partner was extremely supportive, as was her husband. In addition, she had a really good employee base and her immediate family was helpful too. “Outside of that, I was a crazy person”, said Herd. Herd was also a co-founder of the dating app, Tinder. Herd spoke at the 2017 Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit and had this to say:
“If people are telling you that they don’t believe what you’re doing, that means you’re doing something out of their comfort zone. And generally, people don’t want to be taken out of their comfort zone because it’s outside of the status quo. If you’re doing anything disruptive, and if you know it to be good and true and progressive, let the naysayers fuel you to work harder and go faster and sleep less. Well, take care of yourself, but you know what I mean.”
Bumble launched in late 2014. It takes on the “Sadie Hawkins” concept. Which is a bit of an older tradition, but an interesting twist in today’s modern dating world. The Sadie Hawkins concept, if you aren’t aware, is where the female (usually students) ask male students to the school dance. This is also neat in my opinion as it’s attempting to change the stereotypical gender roles. Now, Bumble has over 24 million registrations. In 2016, Bumble began monetizing via in-app purchases and will cross the $100 million mark for sales this year.
Herd turned down a $450 million buyout offer from the Match Group earlier this year, according to sources with knowledge of the conversations. And these sources maintain that Match approached the company again this fall to discuss a valuation well over $1 billion. This is quite the comeback for Herd. As co-founder and Vice President of Marketing at Tinder, which re-invented how people date, she has gone one step further and redefined it yet again.
What’s not a great part of Herd’s story, but a necessary one to tell – she sued Tinder for sexual harassment in 2014. She alleged that her former boss and ex-boyfriend Justin Mateen called her some pretty awful names, and bombarded her with threatening and derogatory text messages. The company has denied any wrong-doing. But Mateen was suspended and then resigned. With everything going on in this area, it’s no surprise that this was part of her journey. It’s disappointing, but it doesn’t seem to be too far out of the norm, unfortunately.
Herd made Forbes’ 30 under 30 this year, and it’s well deserving. Herd had no intentions of creating the company that now has 70 employees. Approximately 85% of the employees are women – including all of those at the top. In their office, there is a sign that says “Be the CEO Your Parents Always Wanted You to Marry”. Which to some might appear like left-wing feminist propaganda, but it has an interesting underlying message. Two actually. One – you can be whatever you want to be. You don’t necessarily need to have a man in your life in order to be successful. It also suggests that we are finally addressing these archaic notions of what men and women can or can’t do. I’m not saying that all women need to strive to be a CEO. But being a woman shouldn’t stop you from making that your goal if you want it to be. It’s an empowering idea and I hope that more organizations get on board with this idea.