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Queen Bee: Bumble Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd’s Billion-Dollar Idea

How the app creator worked to battle sexism — and disrupted the dating world

Whitney Wolfe Herd at Bumble headquarters in Austin, Texas, in January.

Whitney Wolfe Herd at Bumble headquarters in Austin, Texas, in January.

Photograph by Sarah Frankie Linder

In the summer of 2014, Whitney Wolfe Herd found herself in a “perpetual state of sheer and utter anxiety. I did not want to leave my house.” The 29-year old entrepreneur had just left Tindr, where she was a co-founder and the VP of marketing until she sued the company for sexual harassment. Overnight, she became a target of a misogyny she never knew existed. “Hate was just coming at me at all times,” she says. “I always knew toxic masculinity was an issue, but I’d never seen it at such scale.”

The experience made her think about the power dynamic between men and women — especially in dating, where men are expected to make the first move but risk rejection “that can fuel all the ugly stuff, like aggression and abuse.” Her solution: Bumble, the feminist dating app that requires the woman to reach out to her matches first. Initially, Wolfe Herd was told that the idea was a nonstarter; Bumble is now the fastest-growing dating app in the U.S., valued at over $1 billion, with growth that may outpace Tindr. The success is validating, but so is upending assumptions about how men and women want to relate. Says Wolfe Herd, “I was right.”

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