Dating App Exec Puts Power in Women’s Handsinternet: Whitney Wolfe holds reins at Bumble after Tinder departure, lawsuit. Monday, February 2, 2015
Whitney Wolfe, the woman behind the very public sexual harassment and discrimination suit filed against Tinder in the summer, is more than ready to leave the drama behind.
The 25-year-old spoke with the Business Journal last Wednesday in an extensive interview detailing her journey since leaving the $750 million West Hollywood dating app she co-founded. (Read the full interview here.)
It was her use of the “co-founder” title that sparked a national conversation over the representation of women in the tech industry. In her June 30 complaint, Wolfe said she was stripped of her title and was told having a young female co-founder “makes the company seem like a joke.”
“I was not acknowledged,” Wolfe told the Business Journal. “I was written out of history.”
Tinder parent InterActivCorp and Sean Rad, the app’s soon-to-be dethroned chief executive, denied that Wolfe, then vice president of marketing, ever held the role of co-founder. The ugly suit eventually led to the resignation of Chief Marketing Officer and Wolfe’s ex-boyfriend Justin Mateen, who was named in the complaint as having verbally abused her with sexist comments.
“I just hope that all women never undervalue their merit, their skill or their worth,” she said last week.
In the five months since settling her suit for an undisclosed sum, Wolfe has moved to Austin, Texas, and released her own dating app, Bumble, a Tinder-lookalike that puts women in charge. Matches disappear after 24 hours unless women initiate a conversation with their suitors.
The app is the product of an eight-person team, including ex-Tinder execs Chris Gulczynski and Sarah Mick, scattered across Austin, London and Los Angeles. Bumble, which has seen 100,000 downloads, eclipsed 1 million matches last week. Sixty percent of matches turn into female-led conversations. Women on average are spending 70 minutes a day on the app, said Wolfe.
Wolfe said she was eager to get back into the startup life and wanted to create a product that would have a social responsibility to women.
She wishes the best for her former company – she still holds an equity stake – but said no one could deny her role in making Tinder one of the most successful mobile apps to date.
“I understand it has been up for discussion,” Wolfe said. “But I’m a co-founder of Tinder. End of story.”
Asked what title is listed on her new Bumble business card, the Queen Bee proudly said “founder” and “CEO.”