How Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd Became a Dating Empire Tycoon
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Private equity giant Blackstone has taken a majority stake in MagicLab, the parent company of dating app Bumble. As part of the deal, Andrey Andreev, the MagicLab CEO, will sell his stake and step down. Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd will become CEO of the entire operation, which will be valued at $3 billion.
The deal marks a milestone in Bumble’s journey. Wolfe Herd has long acknowledged Andreev as her founding partner. After she sued Tinder for sexual harassment, he was the person who reached out to her and suggested they team up on a new venture. She has said that he was the one who encouraged her to pursue a women-focused dating app rather than a social network, as she originally wanted to start. And it was Andreev who put up the money to launch Bumble, making him a majority owner.
But then, in July, Forbes published a scorching investigation that alleged Andreev allowed a sexist work environment to flourish at companies of his, such as Badoo. In the story, Wolfe Herd said she had never witnessed toxic behavior in the Badoo headquarters and that she stood firmly behind Andreev. “He’s become my family and one of my best friends,” she told Forbes.
However, I imagine very different conversations were being had behind the scenes. It’s not exactly a good look for a women-focused dating app to be associated with sleaze and misogyny. So now, with Andreev out, Wolfe Herd will lead the $3-billion dating empire.
“We will keep working towards our goal of recalibrating gender norms and empowering people to connect globally, and now at a much faster pace with our new partner,” Wolfe Herd said in a statement.
WEWORK SAYS GOODBYE … to The Wing, a female-focused co-working startup. WeWork confirmed that it is divesting from its stake in the company.
WeWork owns about 23% of The Wing, which it valued at $58.8 million in June 2019, according to its IPO prospectus. The Wing is currently valued at close to $400 million, according to a source familiar with the deal.
WeWork swooped in to lead The Wing’s $32 million Series B funding round in 2017. At the time, I asked WeWork’s then-COO Jen Berrent if the startup could be an acquisition target. Berrent said, “We’re not doing this lightly. We are doing this to produce a long-term footprint, but at the same time, we’re not saying this has to end in an acquisition in order for it to be successful.”
Berrent, who is now WeWork’s chief legal officer and who also sits on The Wing’s board, is in hot water after she was named as a defendant in WeWork’s ongoing pregnancy discrimination case. She’s accused of calling WeWork employee Medina Bardhi’s pregnancy “a problem” that needs “a solution” and “to be fixed.” WeWork intends to “vigorously defend itself against this claim,” while Berrent is expected to lose her seat on The Wing’s board after WeWork sells its stake.
- VOI Technology, a Sweden-based e-scooter operator, raised $85 million in Series B funding. Vostok New Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Balderton Capital, Creandum, Project A, JME Ventures, Raine Ventures, Kreos Capital, Inbox Capital, Rider Global and Black Ice Capital.
- CitiXsys, a New York City-based provider of omnichannel retail management solutions, raised $60 million in funding. Goldman Sachs led the round.
- GuRu Wireless (fka Auspion, Inc), a Pasadena, Calif.-based wireless power company, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Investors include Kairos Ventures and BOLD Capital Partners.
- Hundred, a Berlin-based vitamin subscription company, raised $8 million in funding, from Insight Partners.
- Replenium Inc, a Seattle-based provider of product replenishment solutions, raised $8 million in Series A funding. GLP led the round.
- Varentec, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of grid-edge intelligence and control, raised $5 million in funding. WindSail Capital Group led the round.
- Parabol, a New York-based mobile-ready SaaS application that developer teams use to conduct meetings including retrospectives and check-ins, raised $4 million in seed funding. CRV led the round, and was joined by investors including Haystack.
HEALTH & LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
- Akeso, a China-based drug developer raised nearly $150 million in Series D financing. Loyal Valley Capital and Sino Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd led the round.
- Arkuda Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech firm, raised $44 million in Series A funding. Atlas Venture and Pfizer Ventures led the round, and were joined by investors including Tekla Capital Management LLC and BioInnovation Capital.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
- NSi Industries, which is backed by Blue Sea Capital, acquired SullStar Technologies, a Simi Valley, Calif.-based provider of tools and connectors for the datacom and telecom markets. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Gemspring Capital has made an investment in Crafty Apes, an El Segundo, Calif.-based visual effects company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Butterfly agreed to acquire a majority stake in Orgain, an Irvine, Calif.-based producer of organic and clean nutrition products. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- 89bio, a San Francisco-based biotech focused on metabolic diseases, plans to raise $84.9 million in an upsized IPO of 5.3 million shares priced within range at $16. It has yet to post a revenue and posted losses of $16.2 million in 2018. OrbiMed (41.2% pre-offering), Longitude Venture Partners (24.9%), and RA Capital (21.6%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ETNB.” Read more.
FIRMS + FUNDS
- Kyle Echerd joined Acacia Partners as a senior associate.
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