Whitney Wolfe Herd is the visionary leader behind Bumble (NASDAQ:BMBL). At just 31 years old, Herd is the youngest female founder to take a major company public. Herd’s strong drive and focus could make Bumble a formidable competitor to its rival Match Group (NASDAQ:MTCH)
In this video from the Industry Focus podcast recorded on February 17, Motley Fool contributor Luis Sanchez, Motley Fool analyst Meilin Quinn, and Industry Focus host Nick Sciple discuss the Match Group, Bumble, and the online dating industry.
Nick Sciple: Yeah. It has a clear use case and where it fits into the market. The other thing that I think is interesting about Whitney Wolfe Herd, 31 years old, youngest female founder to take the company public. You talk about the demographics in this space, I would say that the further you get from 30, probably the last insights you maybe have to your core customer of what’s going on here. I think it’s exciting to have a young founder leading this company. Any thoughts? Meilin, when you look at what Whitney Wolfe Herd, her role in this business, she controls 14 percent of the voting stake.
Meilin Quinn: Yeah, absolutely. We haven’t spoken about Match just yet, but feel that leadership is maybe one of the areas Match is lacking in comparison to Bumble. Match is not founder-led unlike Bumble. Whitney Wolfe Herd, she actually left Tinder over frustrations about sexual harassment. She actually sued Tinder for this. I definitely see Bumble’s edge over that. Many of those executives and board members are women, and they seem to take a much more forward approach to corporate governance and culture.
Nick Sciple: Certainly, yeah. There’s been lots of attention back and forth between the Match Group and Bumble. You mentioned that sexual harassment lawsuit. They actually had a lawsuit over this summer where there had been some conflict. Match owns the patent to the swipe right mechanism and there had been some conflict between Bumble using that, but they settled that lawsuit. Then some other allegations around, Match had potentially wanted to acquire Bumble at onetime. One other interesting factor, you talked about the founder-led nature of the business. I think from my perspective, as I said earlier, very exciting, particularly her youth I think is interesting because she knows these customers who are using the platform. On the other side of that though, is this company is majority-controlled by the Blackstone Group, and so this is a private equity entity. You think about this idea that founder-led, that’s great, but also this faceless private equity group. Luis, thoughts on this tension between the founder-led nature of the business and then this banking financial entity that also is a controlling stakeholder.
Luis Sanchez: It’s an interesting dynamic. I’d say it’s probably not an unusual dynamic in the broader scope of IPOs. I actually have a lot of comfort that Whitney Wolfe, she is in control. I feel like the company is, in a lot of sense, a mirror image of her philosophy on what she wanted to build. I do worry in one sense that because Blackstone does have such a larger ownership, they’re not going to maintain that larger ownership forever, so it could actually put an overhang on the stock. It just IPO-ed and the stock has a lock-up, but at a certain point, they are going to be selling down their stake, which is certainly a consideration when looking at a new IPO like this.
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