The Meet Group Announces Acquisition Of Gay Social Networking App Growlr

Meet Group
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The Meet Group has acquired Growlr, a free dating platform for the gay bear community. Growlr joins MeetMe, Lovoo, Skout and Tagged in The Meet Group’s portfolio of mobile social entertainment apps, a move that marks the parent company’s first foray into the LGBTQ market.

The Meet Group acquired Growlr for $11.8 million using a combination of $4.8 million in cash and $7 million from its existing line of credit. The company pledged an additional $2 million to be paid in annual $1 million installments over the next years if certain revenue metrics are achieved. Geoff Cook, Chief Executive Officer of The Meet Group who co-founded the company as MyYearbook.com in 2005, called the deal “a meaningful step into the large same-sex dating market.”

“We are thrilled to add Growlr to The Meet Group portfolio,” said Cook. “Similar to what we have done with our other acquired properties, we plan to be aggressive in bringing our video model to Growlr. We expect to begin rolling out live video on Growlr in the fourth quarter of 2019. We also see opportunities to grow advertising revenue on the app, and we plan to further invest in user acquisition to expand brand awareness and reach.”

The Meet Group was drawn to Growlr for several reasons. In an interview with Global Dating Insights (GDI), Cook said the company had been eyeing an entry into the same-sex dating space for same time, and in particular had been looking for a new audience that would be receptive to The Meet Group’s live video product.

“Growlr we felt brought both a combination of good EBITDA and good valuation while allowing us to really get our feet wet and really understand how the gay dating market will take to live streaming video,” he explained. “We’re excited to video enable it and I expect we’ll do that by the end of the year. That’s really what the impetus and thesis was for the acquisition.”

The Meet Group also released fourth quarter and full-year financial results from 2018. The company saw a quarterly total revenue of $52.5 million, an increase of 31 percent year over year. Annual adjusted EBITDA was reported as $32 million, up from $31.6 million from the previous year, and total revenue reached $178.6 million, up 44 percent year over year.

Continuing into 2019, Cook says The Meet Group is primarily focused on driving video penetration and revenue. Various updates are in the works to engage the 80 percent of users who aren’t yet fully participating in live streaming, including highlighting trending and nearby streams at the top of users’ feeds and the introduction of one-to-one video chatting. Future acquisitions are not a priority but are not off the table.

“We’re certainly opportunistic. We didn’t buy anything in 2018 but in 2016 and 2017 we did and obviously we started the year 2019 buying something,” said Cook. “We’re certainly not close to anything right now but we’re always aware of the space.”