The skeptics thought no woman would ever make the first move. But Whitney Wolfe Herd, young, creative, and undaunted, stuck to her guns. In just four years, her women-centred social networking platform Bumble accumulated over 50 million users in 150 countries, with ladies having made the first move almost a billion times globally. These impressive numbers are only part and parcel of an even more powerful narrative—one that Wolfe Herd was able to move forward with on her own terms because she refused to go down without a fight.
Her first foray into the business of online dating apps was through Tinder, which she co-founded and helped propel to success. In the wake of harrowing experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination involving a co-worker, Wolfe Herd decided to leave the company. It was a difficult time; she became the target of cyber bullying, which left her feeling depressed. This inspired her to sketch out the concept of Merci, an online safe space for women.
Andrey Andreev, the founder of dating platform Badoo, met with Wolfe Herd and encouraged her to utilise her woman-first concept to build a new dating app. Initially reluctant, Wolfe Herd realised the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Andreev presented. Within weeks Andreev became Wolfe Herd's founding partner in Bumble and, together, they built what evolved into the fastest growing social network in the world.
“Andrey and I saw a lot of things that were broken in the way people treated each other online, especially in terms of gender norms in dating,” she says. “We wanted to be a part of the solution and completely dismantle these archaic dynamics. We built Bumble to provide a digital space where users can connect with each other through kindness, accountability, and respect. By having women make the first move, we empower them to take control over the relationship with confidence.”
Though it was created by women for women, Bumble has proven to be an attractive social networking platform for men, too. Says Wolfe Herd, “Putting women in the dating driver’s seat takes the pressure off men to feel that they must be the ones in pursuit and essentially helps recalibrate the way that we connect. Our 2018 research findings show that 63 per cent of men are attracted to women who make the first move. The ladies-first initiative was actually influential in making them want to use Bumble.”