One of the few individuals who can mix work with dating is Whitney Wolfe. The tech CEO earned her stripes building Tinder from the ground up and is now a leading figure within the tech industry. The app she founded, Bumble, may have started out as a simple dating app but recently expanded into helping women find new best friends. Now, Wolfe has a new focus — professional connections.
This fall, Wolfe is bringing Bumble to the corporate world with its new feature, Bizz. Designed as a new approach to networking, Bizz takes the major traits from Bumble and applies it to professional networking. (Something that Bumble’s now rival LinkedIn is struggling with.)
"When it comes to networking, there is still an underlying tension that men feel exists: Can this woman become more than a networking contact to me?" Wolfe told Wired. She believes that Bizz will help solve that problem and can improve how we communicate as a whole.
1. She made the best out of a bad situation.
Wolfe’s resignation from Tinder resulted in a widely publicized sexual harassment lawsuit, but Wolfe didn’t let that keep her from her goal of creating a place for positive conversations. "Time and again, I have always found myself in bad male relationships,” Wolfe said of her previous experiences. “I think that has really been my driving force."
2. She finds and creates positivity.
That ideal place for positive conversations? It ended up becoming Bumble, thanks to the wise words of her mentor — who later became a major investor in the app. Wolfe ensures that her employees feel the same amount of support. She personally checks in with her staff to make sure their moods are a nine out of ten (or higher!) and has hired close contacts that add new perspective and value to Bumble’s mission.
3. She turns obstacles into opportunities.
Pop quiz — if you’re not actively dating, how do you understand a dating app? Once Wolfe was in a serious relationship, she realized that she had accidentally cut herself off from her own platform. "I had created something great and I couldn't use it," Wolfe said. The result? She created BFF, a way for Bumble users to find platonic female friends in their area, which became a predecessor to Bizz. Instead of cutting her losses, Wolfe looked at her lack of access as an obstacle and found a creative way to overcome it.
4. She’s not afraid to tackle global problems.
Wolfe describes Bumble’s new channel, Bizz, as an “empowered LinkedIn.” Bizz will undoubtedly challenge sexism in the workplace, but Wolfe also hopes that all of Bumble’s features will have a long-term effect on gender roles. By forcing women to start the conversation, women will gain confidence that can benefit them personally and professionally. Any leader who inspires that kind of change is a winner in our book!
5. She inspires women to follow in her footsteps.
According to her own team, Wolfe doesn’t like to be referred to as a “boss.” She encourages them to think for themselves and welcomes different perspectives in the workplace. (It’s one of the reasons she hired her mother: to market to an older demographic Wolfe didn’t understand.) Bumble’s Austin office even distributes “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” so employees can participate in group discussions about how to better themselves.
6. She’s successful!
If none of the above has convinced you that Wolfe is one heck of an inspiration, Bumble’s financial success should do the trick. 44 percent of Bumble’s paying customer base is female, an unheard of statistic in Silicon Valley. (In contrast, only 19 percent of Tinder’s revenue came from female customers in 2016.) Despite this, Wolfe is always looking to improve.
"Just because you find success in one area of your life doesn't mean that all of a sudden everything's perfect," Wolfe said. "It's like a work in progress. Always."
7. Her goal is to make the internet better.
Like many other women, Wolfe has found her professional reputation threatened by internet outrage and social media bullies. “I had been bullied and pretty much attacked on the internet. I was really depressed, really sad and had horrible anxiety,” Wolfe explains. “This pervasive dark culture exists on social media and it is going to destroy the mental well-being and self-esteem of all of these women across the world. I wanted to fix that.”
Her experiences are the inspiration for the products she’s built; it’s why Bumble focuses on inspiring women to start, lead and own their conversations. “We’re mission-driven and always will be. When there’s a chance to level the playing field,” Wolfe told Forbes. “We’re going to take it every time.”