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Bumble CEO says 'passion, purpose, and profit can coexist' on IPO day

Bumble (BMBL) is all the buzz on Wall Street, as the dating app, now valued at more than $8 billion, made it official with the public markets on Thursday.

The company, which owns Bumble and Badoo, a dating-based social network, raised $2.15 billion after selling 50 million shares at $43 each, a boost from its plans to sell 45 million shares in the $37 to $39 range. Shares opened at $76 early Thursday afternoon trading.

Bumble co-founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told Yahoo Finance Live the strong market response likely reflects the company’s ambitions to be more than a dating app.

“The world has recognized the power of online dating, and the world is about to recognize the power of finding community and connections around whatever you're looking for on the internet. We have been meticulous about building a brand that protects women and engineers accountability and kindness into the internet,” she said moments before the stock started trading on the Nasdaq.

Herd created Bumble in 2014 with the vision of encouraging women to make the first move. Bumble’s key differentiator is that women have to make the first move in heterosexual matches. Either person can initiate the conversation in same-sex connections.

At 31 years old, Herd joins a rarified group of female founders and billionaires. Her stake in Bumble is now worth about $1 billion. And of the 559 companies that have gone public in the U.S. over the past 12 months, only three, including Bumble, were founded by women, according to Bloomberg.

Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd sits for a portrait in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., January 31, 2019.  REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd sits for a portrait in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

Herd’s cachet and wealth hit new heights in November 2019 when Blackstone (BX) took a majority stake in MagicLab, the owner of Bumble and Badoo, valuing the company at $3 billion and making her the CEO of the dating empire.

While Bumble is primarily known as a destination for singles to find a romantic partner, it has since expanded into categories like networking (BIZZ) and finding friends to hang out with (BFF). The app has 42 million monthly active users and 2.4 million paying users across 150 countries.

Herd is a pioneer in the online dating space, having co-founded Tinder, owned by Match Group (MTCH), before her acrimonious departure in 2014. She sued the company for sexual harassment and discrimination claims, eventually settling for a reported $1 million.

Bumble and Badoo posted $488.9 million of revenue (35.8% year-over-year growth) and $85.8 million in profits in 2019. Herd says the pandemic has boosted the business, and the company logged $376.6 million and $40 million of revenue in the period from Jan. 29, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2020 and in the period from Jan, 1, 2020 to Jan. 28, 2020, respectively.

“We’re profitable because of our commitment to engineering an authentic and genuine experience. Nobody, not in the physical world nor the digital world, had ever built a technology platform or brand fully centered around women's wants and needs. We identified this massive white space, and it has proven to be an incredible business model. This just proves that passion, purpose, and profit can coexist,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote to Whitney Wolfe Herd. The error has been corrected.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s West Coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm and on LinkedIn.

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