As the CEO of a dating app that experienced 70-percent growth in the space of a single year, it’s safe to say that Whitney Wolfe Herd is enjoying considerable professional success. After swapping I do’s with longtime boyfriend Michael Herd, a successful restauranteur and oil industry executive in his own right, this past October in Italy, it’s also safe to assume that her love life is spectacular too. In every conceivable way, in fact, 2017 has been a truly spectacular year for the woman who became the Mrs. Whitney Wolfe Herd just two months ago—and there’s no doubt that she’s just getting started.
Given her considerable professional achievements, one might guess Whitney Wolfe Herd to be well into her 40s. Having landed the cover of Forbes’ 2017 “30 Under 30” issue in December, however, that’s clearly not the case at all. Indeed, at the tender age of 28, Wolfe Herd owns 20 percent of her brainchild. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s 20 percent of a company that was very recently valued at more than $1 billion by a company that was attempting to acquire it. You don’t have to be a math whiz to know that she’s worth a not-so-small fortune at this point.
THE COVER OF FORBES. There are no words to express my gratitude this morning. I am tempted to say ‘I can’t believe it’, but I want every girl and woman to know that if YOU believe in yourself, and in your dreams, and don’t let anyone hold you back, YOU CAN DO IT! If I can, YOU can! A massive thank you to the incredible @clare_oc for making this cover possible. Team @bumble, Andrey, Michael, and every woman who has made the first move – This cover belongs to all of you ❣️👊
However, if you think that money is the point with Whitney Wolfe Herd, you’re sorely mistaken. Were that the case, she would have jumped at the opportunity that presented itself shortly after a previous venture fell by the wayside. After helping to cofound what became one of the hottest dating apps, Wolfe Herd struck out on her own around 2013. That’s also when she left Silicon Valley and retreated to Texas. An alumna of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Wolfe Herd had connections there too and found herself in Austin.
Free from her previous entanglements, Wolfe Herd had the freedom to pursue ideas that had swirled around in her head for eons. In particular, having just been subjected to copious amounts of online harassment simply for being a successful woman in tech, she wanted to do something to make the internet and social media safer and more in favor of women. Her initial concept, Merci, was a social media platform designed for promoting positivity among women. Around that time, an incredible opportunity presented itself. When Andrey Andreev, the founder of Badoo, the top dating app in the world, tried to recruit her, however, she politely declined; she didn’t want to work for anyone else.
Andreev easily could have bid Wolfe Herd adieu at that point, but he saw something in the young professional. Clearly, he felt that she would come up with something big, so he started brainstorming with her. Inevitably, she shared ideas with him about Merci and about women on the internet in general. With his background in dating apps, it made sense that the two ideas eventually merged. Wolfe Herd is the one who struck upon the killer idea: a dating app where women make the first move.
The birth of Bumble was nothing short of fortuitous for Wolfe Herd, as Andreev had the resources and connections that were needed to generate huge buzz right away. Wolfe Herd herself, of course, already had considerable connections and experience, and those came very much in handy too. At long last, women had a dating app where men could only send them messages after they made the first move. This concept clearly resonated with women—many of whom had grown tired of being bombarded with generic or, worse, harassing messages from men via dating apps. So much so, in fact, that the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times within a month of its December 2014 launch.
Wolfe Herd was able to build a large user base for the new app quickly. She also quickly gained loyalty by listening and responding to users’ feedback. In fact, this trait is precisely how one of her offshoots, Bumble BFF, came to be. Early on, many female Bumble users started using the app not only to find romantic partners but to find like-minded female friends too. With Bumble BFF, women can seek out platonic friendships with one another without the pressure of using the same app to find dating partners. More than 3 million users have registered for the app so far, but the number of active users is a lot lower. It’s no matter to Wolfe Herd, as she has plenty of other things in the works.
Another of these is Bumble Bizz. Put simply, it is like Bumble for LinkedIn. Just as women often experience harassment in the online dating world, they often experience it in online networking too. Wolfe Herd’s hope is that Bumble Bizz will provide a safe, positive space for female professionals and entrepreneurs to connect with each other.
The CEO also practices what she preaches at Bumble’s headquarters in a sleepy neighborhood in Austin, Texas. A full 85 percent of her employees are women—and all of the top jobs in the company are occupied by women. Wolfe Herd has implemented many practices that benefit female employees, including childcare services.
Wolfe Herd’s career has positively exploded over the last year or two, but her love life has fared exceptionally well too. In the midst of switching careers and starting to develop Bumble, she had a chance encounter with Michael Herd in Aspen around the holidays in 2013. The couple instantly were joined at the hip, and they officially became “a thing” in February 2014. Herd surprised Wolfe with a truly romantic proposal during a sunset horseback ride at his family’s Texas ranch in June 2016. Right away, Wolfe sprang to work planning the nuptials.
Covered by major publications like Vogue, her wedding to Herd in early October 2017 was like something out of a classic fairy tale. The events occurred at Villa Tre Ville in Positano, Italy, along the Mediterranean coast. Atop a cliff over the shimmering water around 7:45 p.m., the Bumble CEO exchanged vows with Herd and officially became Whitney Wolfe Herd. The celebrations that followed are said to have been simply incredible.
After enjoying what was nothing short of a spectacular year, will Whitney Wolfe Herd ever be able to top 2017? She is still a few years away from no longer qualifying for the 30 Under 30 issue, so it’s reasonable to assume that she still has plenty of new ideas and innovations in her. With a happy new marriage, a wildly successful business and ever-increasing influence, there should be no stopping Wolfe Herd in the months and years to come. That’s not just good news for her and her family, but it’s great news for women everywhere.