Inspirational Entrepreneur: Whitney Wolfe Herd

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“ Since 2017, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have put sexual harassment and gender discrimination at the centre of the cultural conversation. I’m more dedicated than ever to helping advance gender equality — and putting an end to the misogyny that still plagues society. We don’t tolerate hate speech or bad behaviour of any sort; Bumble is a platform rooted in kindness and respect.”

Whitney Wolfe Herd

Why is Whitney Wolfe Herd an inspiration?

Whitney Wolfe Herd is proving to be a force to be reckoned with inside the technological world. After co-founding Tinder in 2012, She changed the courting game forever. In a world becoming increasingly more invested in technology, the app connected people in a modern way. The app innovatively expands a person’s social network, conveniently all from the comfort of their cellphones.  Tinder’s success is indisputable, and as the marketing vice president, Wolfe Herd had already established herself as a successful entrepreneur.

However, Tinder’s triumph has since been clouded by a dark past. After dating her co-founder and direct manager, Justin Mateen, Whitney suffered alleged threats and sexual harassment. As a result, Wolfe Herd filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Tinder and its parent company, IAC. The lawsuit was settled in 2014 for an “undisclosed sum”. Having departed from Tinder, Wolfe Herd turned her “pain into purpose” and stood up for herself.

A taste of medicine…

As Oscar Wilde noted, “ The best revenge is to live well”, and Whitney Wolfe Herd did just that. After accepting an out-of-court settlement; estimated to be worth $1 million, plus shares in Tinder, Wolfe Herd went on to forge a pathway in the technological world. Just two years on from the release of Tinder, Whitney released Bumble.

In creating the new dating app, Wolfe Herd incorporated her intersectional feminist values into the company. In an open letter from the founder and CEO, Wolfe Herd divulges how she recognised a problem. She noticed many women are often confronted with unwarranted advances from pushy suitors. Determined to create an app that empowers women, Wolfe Herd asked herself “What if women made the first move, and sent the first message?”. This original yet simple question has become the networking platform’s fundamental process.

Whitney Wolfe Herd at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, San Francisco, California.

Why is the app so special?

Consumers can swipe through possible suitors by swiping left to express interest and right to reject suitors. Once two users have “liked” one another, they are paired. Then women have only 24 hours to make the first move. Although the entrepreneur initially intended to empower women through the app, Bumble has since become a more inclusive platform. In same-sex matches, either person can make the first move, regardless of gender. Bumble effectively challenges traditional gender roles in heteronormative dating all whilst promoting the user’s confidence. A newly added feature enables anyone to broaden their professional network via Bumble Bizz or meet new friends through BFFs. By recognising other key social relationships in life, Wolfe Herd has created an inclusive app connecting users in a positive and safer community.

As of 2020, Bumble boasts a healthy record of more than 100 million users. It has also encouraged female investors such as Serena Williams and Priyanka Chopra, who aided in Bumble’s expansion into India. The app’s success this year is yet to be revealed. No doubt, Wolfe Herd’s goal of creating a safer space for online networking will yield even greater numbers. In the founder’s words, she wants “ nothing more than for your connections to be both meaningful and healthy”. This statement is supported by her active campaigning role against digital sexual harassment. With Wolfe Herd’s aid, the state of Texas passed a state law in 2019 making unsolicited nude photographs an illegal and punishable offence. Keeping true to her activism, she also introduced a unique algorithm into Bumble.

The Private Detector feature automatically recognises and blurs images of nudity. It issues an exposure warning and users can then decide if they would like to see the image or delete and block the offender. According to studies, “ 57% of female online dating users ages 18 to 34 say someone has sent them a sexually explicit message or image they did not ask for”. In contrast, only 28% of male users reported the same. By promoting user’s consent to nude photographs, Bumble prevents sexual harassment online. Wolfe Herd’s Bumble offers protection like no other. Her invention showcases an authentic desire to safeguard its users whilst networking.

You dictate what your life should be

Whitney Wolfe Herd’s story proves how it is possible to succeed and thrive in a male-dominated world. It is another step towards an equal world. Although entrepreneurship may not be a vocation for every woman, Wolfe Herd’s experience shares a reality for us all. We too can pave a new pathway for ourselves when faced with discrimination and harassment. As a young woman in the technological industry, Whitney Wolfe Herd challenged gender biases. She even became the World’s Youngest Self-Made Woman Billionaire at just 31 years old. Her perseverance and motivation is a lesson to follow. Wolfe Herd proves that no obstacle is too large to overcome, and no one should stand in the way of your ambition. You dictate what your life should be.

Words by Naomi Akintola.


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