Bumble shares soar 75% after IPO, making its 31-year-old founder a rare self-made female billionaire

It turns out that even during a pandemic, people want to date.

Bumble, the dating app founded by a woman for women and designed to enable women to make the first move in online courtship, followed that resilient demand to a stunning stock market debut on Thursday, with its shares up 75% in mid-afternoon trading.

The surge valued the company at $14 billion, making 31-year-old founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, with her 11.6% stake, the rare woman to join the self-made billionaires club in the current tech boom. According to Bloomberg, of the 559 companies that have gone public in the U.S. in the past year, only two others were founded by women. Wolfe Herd is also the youngest woman CEO ever to lead a company as it went public. (Read Fortune’s interview with Wolfe Herd.)

Bumble’s namesake app and the others it operates, including Badoo, had 42 million regular users in September.

Bumble’s most recently updated initial public offering prospectus showed that Wolfe Herd holds 21.5 million shares. At a stock price of $74.26 around 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, those shares were worth $1.6 billion. Wolfe Herd did not sell any shares in the IPO, according to the filing. Bumble’s other major investor is private equity firm Blackstone, which holds a 29.3% stake. (That will fall if the IPO’s underwriters exercise their options to buy more shares.)

Bumble’s IPO was the latest this year to have a huge first-day “pop,” following such companies as Petco Health & Wellness and Poshmark.

After two years at another dating app, Tinder, Wolfe Herd helped launch Bumble in 2014 with Andrey Andreev, the founder of Badoo. The idea was to build a woman-centric platform that would offer women a safe place to date without judgment. In 2020, Wolfe Herd took over as CEO, renaming the parent company, MagicLab, as Bumble.

While Tinder remains a much bigger site, Wolfe Herd told potential investors in a letter included with the IPO prospectus that Bumble’s focus on women would continue to help it stand apart.

“The importance of a woman making the first move is not exclusive to the world of dating, romance, or love. It is a powerful shift, giving women confidence and control. It ignites healthier connections, which lead to relationships rooted in kindness, accountability, and equality,” she wrote.

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