Whitney Wolfe Herd, the 31-year-old founder and CEO of the online-dating app Bumble, took her company public on Thursday. Shares of the dating app soared 67% in its trading debut to USD 72, valuing Herd’s stake at USD 1.5 billion, which made her the youngest self-made female billionaire to do so.
After leaving an executive role at Tinder, Herd founded the female-first dating app in 2014 in hopes of creating a site where women have the power to make the first move in relationships. “The importance of a woman making the first move is not exclusive to the world of dating, romance, or love,” Herd wrote in Bumble’s S-1 filing. “It is a powerful shift, giving women confidence and control.”
Of the hundreds of companies that go public every year, only about 20 have been founded and led by a woman. Four of those were last year, including Maria MacCecchini’s Annovis Bio and Roni Mamluk’s Ayala Pharmaceuticals. Though many factors play into the dearth of women leading initial public offerings, one reason is that only 2.7% of venture-capital dollars have gone to companies founded by women only, PitchBook reported.
Bumble, whose executives and directors are majority female, publicly filed its IPO paperwork on January 15. It has 42 million users across Bumble and Badoo combined. The app will operate as a “controlled company” with Blackstone and Herd taking a majority of the voting power for a period of time to help Bumble focus on long-term goals and avoid activist investors.
Herd, a Utah native and self-described workaholic, also serves on the board of directors of Imagine Entertainment and the executive board at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, from which she graduated.
Herd is joining the ranks of the 21 women founders who came before her, from Stitch Fix’s Katrina Lake, who took the company public in 2017, to The RealReal’s Julie Wainwright, who took her company public in 2019, to Muriel Siebert, who took Siebert Financial public decades earlier in 1972. Just last year, Leen Kawas’ Athira Pharma and Ann Marie Sastry’ Amesite also went public. Other women have taken public biotech, pharmaceuticals, event-planning, nannying, and software companies.