Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

Dedman College Alumna Whitney Wolfe Helped Women Score Dates. Now She Wants to Get Them Their Dream Job


Originally Posted: November 27, 2017

Whitney Wolfe is perched on a chaise longue in a suite at Austin’s South Congress Hotel, a sleek, boutique-y outfit that epitomizes the city’s hipster renaissance, straining to remember the slang used in China to refer to single women over 30. “A girl in China just told us about it, and I found it fascinating,” she says.

“It’s like ‘left on a shelf’ or something,” offers Wolfe’s coworker Louise, a stylish twentysomething with a British accent and a glittery ear cuff.

“Leftovers?” Wolfe asks. No, no, that’s not it. Finally: “Expired? Expired!”

This is the type of anecdote Wolfe lives for. In late 2014, she founded Bumble, known as the “feminist dating app” for its requirement that women message men first and for its kicky, you-go-girl interface (female users are encouraged, via push notifications, to “make the first move, honey!”). In just two years, Bumble has become the fourth-most-downloaded dating app on iTunes—with 21 million registrations worldwide—and the app of choice for upwardly mobile millennial women who are sick of getting dick pics on Tinder and are too cool for

But the origin story of Bumble, which is almost as well known as the product itself, is just as much a triumph over, well, Tinder dicks. After serving as the sole female cofounder of the juggernaut dating app Tinder, Wolfe made an abrupt exit from the company in April 2014, alleging sexual discrimination and wrongful termination, and—with the spotlight of that controversy still on her—hung out her own shingle. At the moment, at least, it appears Wolfe has emerged the victor: A couple of days after our meeting, Forbes reported that Match Group, the parent company of Tinder, had offered to buy Bumble for $450 million—and that Wolfe had turned them down. (Neither she nor Match Group would comment on the matter.)

Today, Wolfe has rented out this suite a few miles from Bumble’s headquarters to do press for the company’s new initiative, Bumble Bizz—a career-networking arm of the app that hooks up users with people they’d like to meet for professional, as opposed to romantic, purposes. If that seems like a surprising direction, know that the 28-year-old Wolfe is the consummate #girlboss, reporting with pride that she sent yesterday’s final email after midnight, and her first email today at 3:05 a.m. And, de rigueur for any self-respecting twenty-first-century entrepreneur, she’s writing a book on how to succeed in business and in life, due out from Penguin next year. Her look is Silicon Valley by way of Shopbop: white skinny jeans and a white flowy blouse (which she’ll dress up with glittery Manolo flats for a Bumble cocktail party later that evening, with her hair in the kind of messy topknot it takes about 30 minutes to actually achieve). READ MORE