Bumble’s 31-year-old founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd has become a billionaire with the company’s shares soaring to 67% in its trading debut to $72 at 1:03 PM at New York, reported Bloomberg on February 12.
A company catering to women and led by women has made its 31-year-old female founder a billionaire.
The listing caps a saga that’s both inspiration and a cautionary tale for women tech founders. Wolfe Herd capitalised on an underserved market and built a multibillion-dollar company that was in a sense born from one of the most vexing obstacles to women entrepreneurs: sexual harassment.
“Hopefully this will not be a rare headline,” Wolfe Herd said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg Television, referring to the uniqueness of Bumble’s women-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.”
Bumble’s IPO launches Wolfe Herd into a rarefied club of self-made female billionaires. While women make up about half of the global population, self-made women – mostly from Asia – account for less than 5 percent of the world’s 500 biggest fortunes, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Self-made men comprise almost two-thirds of the wealth index.
How did she decide to Create Bumble?
Among the numerous impediments to women and other underrepresented groups in the startup world, including people of colour, harassment is one of the most pervasive.
A Women Who Tech survey last year found that 44 percent of female founders polled reported they’d experienced harassment on the job, with more than a third of that group facing sexual harassment.
It was harassment in fact that spurred the creation of Bumble. Wolfe Herd founded the Austin, Texas-based company in 2014 following her departure from Tinder, the rival dating app she helped found.
The split was acrimonious, marked by a sexual harassment lawsuit Wolfe Herd filed against the company, alleging among other things that she was repeatedly called derogatory names by executives and stripped of her co-founder role since having a “girl” with that title “makes the company seem like a joke.” The suit was later settled.
Wolfe Herd’s partnership with Andreev helped her surmount a key obstacle to women-led, women-focused startups: funding. Less than 3 percent of venture capital dollars go to startups founded by women, according to Pitchbook data, a figure that’s barely budged over the past decade.
The tendency of venture capitalists to fund what they know and who’s in their network sustains the gap. And that’s despite evidence suggesting women-led startups actually produce better returns than those founded by men.
Studies by the Kauffman Foundation, MassChallenge, and BCG found that female-founded companies generated more revenue and were significantly more capital efficient.