Shares of Bumble reached $72 on Thursday afternoon in the company's market debut, making its chief executive not only wealthy but a rarity. That price meant that Whitney Wolfe Herd's shares were worth $1.5 billion. Few tech entrepreuners bursting into such territory are women, Bloomberg reports; 559 US companies have gone public in the past year, and Bumble is only the third with a female founder. And Whitney Wolfe, 31, is the youngest female founder to take her company public, per CNBC. The company's dating app requires women to make the first move by starting a conversation with a male possibility. "This is a huge win," said Allyson Kapin, founder of the Women Who Tech network. "Whitney saw an opportunity that wasn’t being addressed for women and based on her expertise she’s made it into this gold mine."
The Bloomberg index showed that the world's 500 richest people gained $1.8 trillion in wealth last year, 91% of which went to men. Less than 5% of the world’s 500 largest fortunes are held by self-made women—such as Wolfe Herd. Her success as a tech entrepreneur was not without conflict. Wolfe Herd founded Bumble in 2014 after leaving Tinder, another dating app company that she'd helped launch. She filed and later settled a sexual harassment lawsuit saying that Tinder executives called her derogatory names and took away her co-founder role, telling her that a "girl" with that status "makes the company seem like a joke." Several studies have found that companies started by women produce better returns. "Whitney’s success will help further the case for investing in businesses that serve a female audience or that are founded by women," one venture capitalist said. "It's a super exciting time." (Read more IPO stories.)