Whitney Wolfe Herd is taking Bumble public as the youngest female CEO to ever IPO

  • Female-first dating app Bumble goes public Thursday with founder Whitney Wolfe Herd at the helm.
  • Herd is the youngest of the handful of women CEOs who have taken their companies public.
  • The company could be valued at about $6 billion to $8 billion. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Thirty-one-year-old Whitney Wolfe Herde, founder and chief executive officer of online dating app Bumble, is taking her company public Thursday, and she is the youngest-ever female to do so. 

After leaving an executive role at Tinder, Herd founded the female-first dating app in 2014 in the hopes of creating a site where women have the power to make the first move in relationships.

“The importance of a woman making the first move is not exclusive to the world of dating, romance, or love,” Herd wrote in Bumble’s S-1 filing. “It is a powerful shift, giving women confidence and control.”

Of the hundreds of companies that go public every year, only about 20 have been founded and led by a woman. Four of those were last year, including Maria L. MacCecchini’s Annovis Bio and Roni Mamluk’s Ayala Pharmaceuticals. Though many factors play into the dearth of women leading IPOs, one reasons is that only 2.7% of venture capital dollars have gone to women-only founded companies, Pitchbook reported.

Bumble, whose executives and directors are majority female, filed to go public on January 15. It has 42 million users and could receive a valuation of $6 billion to $8 billion when it lists Thursday. The app will operate as a “controlled company” with Blackstone and Herd taking a majority of the voting power for a period of time to help Bumble focus on long-term goals and avoid activist investors. 

Read more: Wall Street’s resident IPO expert shares the strategy behind her ETF that returned 107% last year — plus 3 risks to the current IPO boom and 5 offerings to watch this year

Though the company hasn’t shared Herd’s net worth, the CEO will have a total annual compensation of about $19 million, including her salary and stock awards. Herd, a Utah-native and self-described workaholic, also serves on the board of directors of Imagine Entertainment and the executive board at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, from where she graduated. 

Bumble did not reply to Insider’s request for comment. 

Herd is joining the ranks of the 20 women founders who came before her, from StitchFix’s Katrina Lake, who took the company public in 2017, to The RealReals’ Julie Wainwright who went public in 2019, to Muriel Siebert who took Siebert Financial public decades earlier in 1972. Just last year, Leen Kawas’ Athira Pharma public and Ann Marie Sastry’ Amesite also went public. Other women have IPOed biotech, pharmaceuticals, event-planning, nannying, and software companies, among others.

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