Why is Bumble filing for an IPO a historic moment in tech?

Bumble, the female-centered dating app, has announced plans to file for an initial public offering (IPO) on Wall Street in March.

The company filed paperwork at the end of last week and will list on the Nasdaq under the stock ticker ‘BMBL’.

When Bumble goes public next month, 31-year-old Founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, will become the youngest woman to lead a company through an IPO.

The board at the firm is currently made up of 73% women – something which is largely unprecedented in the tech sector across the world.

Bumble reported revenues of more than $376m last year and net losses in excess of $84.1m.

Headquartered in Texas, the app was founded in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd, who started her career at fellow dating app, Tinder. The difference between the companies is due to its women-focused set up. Bumble requires women to make the first move. The company now has more than 42 million active users across the world each month.

Wolfe Herd said: “We remain committed to the major opportunity ahead of us to make dating healthier and more equitable around the world, not only for women, but for people across the gender spectrum.

“Our long-term vision is to be the platform to meet new people, no matter what you might be looking for, whichever life stage or situation you’re in. We will do this with our innovative technology and by advocating for equality, both through legislation and with the power of our trusted brand.”

Bumble is currently valued at more than $3bn – and the IPO is set to raise more than $1bn to help the company expand its tech offering across the world.

Wolfe Herd commented: “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. We remain committed to the major opportunity ahead of us to make dating healthier and more equitable around the world, not only for woman, but for people all across the gender spectrum. We will continue to build into platonic, professional, and other areas of connection, which has always been core to our mission.

“While we are proud of how far we have come, having grown from a community of just a few people to an IPO, today is just day one. This marks the start of a very bright future for Bumble Inc., one that we believe will change lives and drive great value for shareholders. Our mission, values, commitment to improving relationships globally, and dedication to our communities will continue to fuel us for the long run. We invite you to join us on our journey. Welcome to Bumble Inc.!”

What is the significance?

Natasha Mudhar, Founder of The World We Want

Bumble filing for an IPO is a statement of intent which stands to represent a shift in momentum for female-led tech companies. The proportion of women in tech remains considerably low, despite concerted efforts to rectify the gender imbalance within leading companies – particularly those which are publicly listed. For example, the number of female computer science graduates has declined from a peak of 37% in 1984, to just 18% today, which is a significant indication that efforts to diversify the tech industry are stuttering. Whether it be public encouragement for females to pursue careers in tech, or a glass ceiling preventing them from occupying senior roles – there are clear issues which need addressing.

However, news of Bumble’s IPO breeds a new air of optimism, one that demonstrates that the value of female-led start-ups are rising in stock. The progress of Founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd has garnered the confidence of external shareholders who have sought investments and have backed her continual progress. Her story, as the soon to be youngest woman to lead a company through an IPO is one to be celebrated, and one I hope has a catalytic impact on ambitious female tech entrepreneurs around the world.

Co-Founder of Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, Ceylan Boyce

This is really an important moment to be celebrated by all women entrepreneurs. Even today there are significant barriers facing women entrepreneurship, including lack of access to funds, a lack of role models and a lack of network or even exclusion from important business building networks.

The fact that a young woman was able to take her company (which is a mission-based business with a strong emphasis on women empowerment) public is definitely creating a much needed role model. It sends a clear message: “It is possible!”

The stats show that women are poorer than men worldwide. UN Women states that women economic empowerment is the direct path towards gender equality. Entrepreneurship is one of the key ways which will enable women to not only take power of their financial freedom but also to increase their voice, presence and influence in society.

Whitney Wolfe Herd is the living proof of this. Bravo to her and bravo to her investors who believed in her and her company!

Amy Crumpton, Founder and Chief Coach at Social Cactus Coaching

This is a significant moment in history, particularly for female entrepreneurs and women in business. It shows that not only are more women holding the most senior positions possible, we are operating on a level-playing field that previously we have not had access too. Moments like this one will pave the way for other female-led businesses to rise, and to see such phenomenal success from a young entrepreneur will no doubt empower other women to see it is possible for them as well. This is a very exciting time!

Jackie Fast, award-winning entrepreneur and former star of The Apprentice

It is important to recognize Bumble’s IPO not as an outlier achievement for female entrepreneurs, but the start of what will become an inevitable onslaught of breaking barriers. It is those rule breakers and rebels that are leading the way. Like Bumble’s CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, more people are rousing their inner rebel to take on challenges they were afraid of before.

Times have changed. Everyone has access to the same information and the world is getting smaller. We are no longer bound by the constraints that used to hold us back. It is now possible for everyone to achieve more. To achieve greater. To IPO at 31.

I encourage everyone to stop saying “wow” and start thinking “I can do that too”.

At Business Leader, we want to hear what this moment means for the future of tech and female leadership. Please comment below or email editor@businessleader.co.uk.