When Whitney was 11, her father took a sabbatical and moved the family to Paris.
‘I was enrolled in a very international school, with the children of diplomats and royalty. ‘It changed my perspective.’When Whitney returned to school in small-town Utah, she suddenly stood out.
The media reporting of the case was extensive and in the summer of 2014 Whitney was the subject of vicious trolling from strangers of both sexes.
‘Emails, texts, tweets, people showing up at my house – really weird and horrible stuff happened,’ she remembers, shaking her head.
‘I could travel the world, I could start companies, but I was not allowed to strike up a conversation with the cute guy in my class at college? ‘If I make the first move, I’m perceived as a crazy girl, just for going after what I want.
That’s not fair.’It is an unusually wet morning in Austin, Texas, where Bumble is based, when I meet Whitney for breakfast at a boutique hotel.
Whitney met her fiancé, 29-year-old Michael Herd, heir to a Texan oil company, through mutual friends when skiing in Aspen three years ago. Whitney (and her younger sister Danielle) grew up in a small town outside Salt Lake City, Utah, where her father Michael is a property developer and mother Kelly was a housewife.
Bumble works in a similar way to Tinder – prospective dates are offered based on location, users swipe right for yes, left for no thank you – but, crucially, women call the shots.
Men cannot initiate a conversation (even if their ‘yes’ swipe leads to a match), and the female party has 24 hours to start a chat before the match expires.
She looks more like a college sorority president than the CEO of a global tech company, and has a fizzy, perky presence. Whitney recently appeared on ’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list, an annual round-up of the most influential young innovators.‘I think that early on a lot of people thought women making the first move was a gimmick and that we were just some cute girly dating app,’ she reflects.
‘But we’re serious about putting women in the driver’s seat and chipping away at societal expectations.’The second strand of Bumble’s mission is to stamp out the aggressive, lewd messaging that has grown rampant in a dating environment in which strangers can hide behind screens.