At Accel we are passionate about backing exceptional founders with unique insights and the courageousness to reshape the way we live our lives. Daniel Ek changed the way we listen to music, Stewart Butterfield changed the way we work, Lynda Weinman changed the way we learn, Mark Zuckerberg changed the way we connect, and so on. Three years ago we met Whitney Wolfe Herd, who was on a mission to change perhaps the most fundamental behavior imaginable: how people meet. We were inspired from the start by Whitney and her mission, so last year we were proud to invest $100 million into her company, Bumble, marking Accel’s largest single investment ever into a consumer company. And today thanks to Whitney, Sarah Jones Simmer, Idan Wallachman, and a world-class team, we applaud Bumble on surpassing 100 million users globally.
As co-founder of Tinder in 2012, Whitney was among the very first entrepreneurs to foresee that online dating, at the time a nascent market, would become foundational to how young people form relationships. While dating apps carried an air of stigma back then, today they are ubiquitous to the digitally native generation: approximately 50% of all relationships in the U.S. and western Europe originated on a dating app last year. Whitney certainly had the right market instinct, but over time sensed a fundamental flaw in the construct through which men and women met online: only men were empowered to make the first move. In launching Bumble, she realized the power of creating a platform that promotes the basic human ideals of kindness, equality, and respect.
With Tinder, Whitney helped launch a prolific dating app—but with Bumble she is catalyzing a movement. The values that drive Whitney are infused into the company’s DNA, from empowering underrepresented geographies (Bumble has enabled women in India to make the first move 15 million times); to molding the product roadmap around fighting online harassment (an AI-powered filter removes lewd images before they are seen); to deploying marketing dollars in the name of social justice (at least 15% of the budget is committed to Black-owned businesses). Importantly, this is so much more than just a convenient mission; Bumble is a digital media powerhouse. With hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, a highly profitable business model, a growth rate that outpaces the strongest of public comparables, and now more than 100 million users globally, Bumble is a franchise consumer business, set up to endure.
Whitney is a force of nature. She has successfully lobbied Congress to pass digital anti-harassment legislation, recruited Serena Williams to her #inhercourt campaign, and launched a venture capital fund supporting women founders. Together with her team, she has expanded Bumble’s product reach to include business connections (Bumble Bizz) and new friend connections (Bumble BFF), and had the foresight to launch a video chat product—which has experienced a nearly 70% spike in adoption during Covid-19. Since we began working together late last year, Whitney has bolstered her company with the support network it needs to thrive well into the future, including Ann Mather (Netflix / Alphabet / Airbnb board member) as Executive Chair and Tariq Shaukat (former head of Google Cloud) as President, to help her oversee 600 employees globally. With confidence, grace, and a tireless work ethic, she has also restructured her multi-billion dollar company while starting a family with her husband, Michael, and their 7-month old son, Bo.
Behind a brand that is empathetic and dynamic, and a business that is formidable, Whitney is changing consumer behavior for the better. Along with our friends at Blackstone, we are humbled to be a part of this important mission and excited to support Whitney and the broader Bumble team in the journey ahead.
-Christine, Maya & Miles