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She’s Young, Rich and Smart

May 02, 2018

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Whitney Wolfe Herd turned online dating into a
Sadie Hawkins dance with her megahit Bumble

I came across a fantastic success story titled “The Money Honey” in the December 2017 issue of Elle magazine. The piece was skillfully researched and beautifully written by Amanda FitzSimons.

Bumble cofounder, Whitney Wolfe Herd at ease

Photo: Courtesy of Elle magazine

She opens with a quote from Whitney who is trying to remember the slang term in China for women over 30 who are not married. “Left on the shelf? No, no. Leftovers? No, that’s not it. Wait a minute. Expired? Yes, expired is the word!” This is the type of anecdote Wolfe lives for.

ABRUPT EXIT FROM THE DATING APP “TINDER”

After serving as the sole female cofounder of Tinder, the dating app, Whitney left the company in April 2014. She had worked there as marketing director for two years before she decided to sue the company for sex discrimination. Three months later she was awarded over $1 million.

IF LIFE HANDS YOU A LEMON, MAKE LEMONADE 

She founded Bumble in late 2014. It is known as the “feminist dating app” because of its requirement that women contact men first. It’s also famous for its kicky, you-go-girl interface (female users are encouraged, via push notifications, to “make the first move, honey!”). In just two years it had 21 million registrations worldwide.

“I WASN’T BORN AS A CRUSADING FEMINIST”

Whitney grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and attended Southern Methodist University that she describes as having “all of these rules – like no, you can’t text him; if you text him, he’s going to think you’re desperate, crazy. I just wanted to live my life and do what I wanted.”

In September 2017, Whitney married Texas oil heir, Michael Herd in Positano, Italy. Her stunning dress is from Oscar de la Renta. (She did not meet Michael on Bumble)

IT WAS THE RIGHT THING AT THE RIGHT TIME

When Whitney founded Bumble, the market was ripe for launching new dating apps. Online dating would triple among 18- to 24-year-olds between 2013 and early 2016, according to Pew surveys. A record number of American adults (77%) would report that there was no stigma attached to using such services.

“HOW CAN WE MAKE DATING BETTER FOR WOMEN”

Whitney sat down and looked at her personal pain points. “That’s when my ‘aha’ moment came,” she states. Her brainstorm was to make her fellow females go first: Once two people express mutual interest, the woman has to reach out. And, if she fails to do so within 24 hours, the guy vanishes from her queue, POOF!

BUMBLE HAS ONE OF THE LOWEST ABUSE RATES

It is reportedly .005%. This seems reasonable because men who sign up for an app where women take the lead may be relatively evolved in the first place. Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at the University of Miami, and a prominent online harassment activist, praises Bumble for keeping men from “having all the power.”

GOING FORWARD: YIPEE! THERE’S “BUMBLE BIZZ”

The unstoppable Whitney has a new initiative: a career-networking arm of the app that hooks up users with people they’d like to meet for professional, as opposed to romantic, purposes. Networking expert and Wharton professor, Adam Grant, believes it might actually fill a gap. “Every year my students complain that social media doesn’t help them connect with new people – just ones they already know,” he says.

MAY WE SUGGEST…

Take a look at ADEA’s layering tops for spring – which will be here before we know it – and very welcome after this chilly winter we’ve had.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick


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