Whitney Wolfe Herd to speak at Commencement

DALLAS (SMU) – Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble Inc., became the youngest woman to take a company public when she celebrated the initial offering of her dating app shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market in February. The 31-year-old entrepreneur and SMU alumna drew lessons from her remarkable life story as the featured speaker at SMU’s May Commencement Convocation on Saturday, May 15.

“Whitney Wolfe Herd may be the youngest commencement speaker we have ever had,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Our graduates will feel a sense of kinship with her as it has been only ten years since she walked across the stage in cap and gown. She began experimenting with entrepreneurism while at SMU, and went on to transform a big idea into something that helps people connect in new ways.” 

Wolfe Herd has a fascinating story to tell. She founded two companies while she was pursuing her degree in international studies at SMU – one that marketed fair trade clothing, and another that helped raise funds for wildlife affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After graduation in 2011 she volunteered overseas and then worked briefly for a customer rewards app company before she co-founded the original “swipe right” dating app, Tinder, in 2012.

Her signature company was born of her determination to reinvent the internet for women: On the Bumble app, women must send the first message to men they are interested in within the first 24 hours of matching. As she told SMU Magazine in 2018, “When you think about it, women are making the first move, which is empowering,” Wolfe Herd says. “We tolerate zero abusive behavior, so that kindness piece is there, too.”

Her strategic vision has guided the company’s growth to tens of millions of users in over150 countries and changed the way people connect online and off. 

Wolfe Herd has been included twice in the Forbes’ 30 under 30 issue, was named to the TIME 100 most influential people list in 2018, and Business Insider’s 30 Most Important Women Under 30 in Tech. She serves on the board of Imagine Entertainment, the film and television production company founded by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.

At SMU, she serves on the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Executive Board and was the recipient of SMU’s Emerging Leader Award in 2019.