Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd Talks About Her Dating App’s Wild and Crazy Year
Over the past year, Bumble has gone through a lot. It escalated a legal battle with rival online dating giant Match, started a venture fund for female founders, began exploring an initial public offering, banned photos of guns on its app, took out an ad in support of sexual assault survivors, and pushed into skincare. And the company did all this while continuing to grow its dating, networking, and friend-finding app.
“We have such a unique opportunity right now. We have 41 million registered users and we’re just getting to the tip of the iceberg with what we can do,” Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd said onstage at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif. on Thursday. “Everything you just laid out is really just an effort to keep chasing our northern star: how do we allow people to connect on kinder, more accountable terms?”
She took the stage—with her mom in the audience—just over an hour after Mandy Ginsberg, Match CEO and her current legal opponent, and quickly broke news of her own: Bumble will be expanding into India with the support of its new investor and advisor Priyanka Chopra.
“If you think about the landscape of India, no one has earned the trust of women,” Wolfe Herd said. “Women globally want to be empowered, women globally want to feel safe, women globally need to connect.”
The morning was a typical one for Wolfe Herd and Bumble these days, with Bumble’s own announcements and its legal drama making headlines side-by-side.
Ginsberg said earlier that morning that she admired Wolfe Herd and Bumble despite their business disagreements—and Wolfe Herd was quick to agree.
“You can be in competition, you can be at odds as business leaders, but don’t destroy each other as women under any circumstance,” Wolfe Herd said.
Bumble’s drama with Match started when Match sued Bumble for stealing its trade secrets: the technology behind Tinder’s dating-app swipe. It got worse when Bumble alleged in a countersuit that Match was only suing Bumble as part of an effort to acquire the startup with a lowball offer.
Bumble has turned down Match’s buyout offers and has since announced that it’s exploring an IPO—but an acquisition isn’t totally off the table, Wolfe Herd said.
“We don’t really look at an exit as part of the day-to-day strategy. … We’re not getting out of bed in the morning, saying, ‘Who can we sell to?’ We’re saying, ‘Who else can we empower? Who can we inspire? What societal norms can we completely dismantle?’ Wolfe Herd said. “If an acquisition came along that was going to fuel that mission and help take it to every corner of the planet, faster, more efficiently, it’s something we’ll explore.”