Austin entrepreneur might join exclusive list of local billionaires

An Austin tech entrepreneur could soon join the city’s exclusive billionaires club.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of dating app company Bumble, could go from millionaire to billionaire if her Austin-based company reportedly goes public. Bloomberg news service reported on September 1 that Bumble was preparing an IPO for its stock. According to Bloomberg, the IPO could value Bumble at $ 6 billion to $ 8 billion.

In November, private equity giant Blackstone Group Inc. bought a controlling stake in Bumble. At that time, Andrey Andreev, Herd’s Bumble’s business partner, sold all of his shares in the company to Blackstone. However, the Wall Street Journal reported that Herd retained the “vast majority” of its Bumble holdings. In his announcement of the deal, Blackstone said Bumble (then known as MagicLab) was valued at $ 3 billion.

It is not known how much Herd still owns Bumble. In 2017, Forbes reported that it controlled 20 percent of the company’s shares. If that’s still the case, and Bumble’s value climbs to $ 6 billion to $ 8 billion when it goes public, Herd could be sitting on fortunes – at least on paper – in the $ 1.2 billion to $ 1.6 billion range . Note, however, that this is a rough estimate as Herd’s ownership structure is not clear enough.

In 2019, Forbes estimated Herd’s net worth at $ 290 million. Before Herd launched the women-centric Bumble app in 2014, Southern Methodist University alum co-founded the Tinder dating app.

If Bumble goes public and Herd’s net worth rises above $ 1 billion, she will become Austin’s eighth billionaire – and, according to Forbes, the second billionaire.

Last year, Herd told Inc. that she wants Bumble to prove that a company “can still make massive profits and be a good business model while pushing the security and privacy needle for users.”

When Herd rises into the billionaires’ stratosphere, she’s in good company here. Tech mogul Michael Dell heads Austin’s billionaire crew, followed by private equity king Robert Smith, vodka guru Tito Beveridge, haircare and tequila magnate John Paul DeJoria, tech titan Thai Lee, software baron Joe Liemandt and private equity tycoon Brian Sheth. Lee is currently only one woman in the bunch.

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