Chinese Gay Dating App Is Twice As Big As Grindr And Looking To Expand

  • Friday, July 15 2016 @ 07:27 am
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Blued Gay Dating Service

To coincide with LGBT Pride Month in the United States, China’s most popular gay social networking app announced last month a major milestone. Blued, founded in 2012, has completed its latest rounds of investor financing and now has a value of $300 million.

Blued claimed more than 27 million registered users globally as a February 2016, with overseas users accounting for more than 20 percent of the total. Not only does that make it China’s biggest gay dating app and bigger than Grindr, it also makes Blued one of the top social networking apps on the App Store.

Geng Le, CEO of Blued, said the company has seen significant revenue growth, particularly in the first half of 2016 when it started to make a profit. The app primarily makes money from advertising and live streaming, where audiences can tune into live-streaming video broadcasts and send virtual gifts to the broadcasters.

"With the funding, we plan to speed up our international expansion, and localize our products overseas,” Geng said. “We will promote the marketing and branding, and set up more offices overseas. We also plan to hire more competitive staff, and we will pay them a considerable salary."

Blued currently operates offices abroad in the United States and Thailand. The app has been translated into nine languages and its users hail from more than 190 countries and regions.

What has made Blued so explosively popular? As one of the earliest Chinese-language, geo-dating apps for gay singles in the region, Blued got an early foothold in the market. And given that China’s population is 1.3 billion - 1.7 million of which are estimated to fall on the LGBT spectrum - that market is potentially enormous.

“The gay business is a piece of virgin territory in China, and we hope to become a leader of this lucrative market,” Geng Le told China Daily this week. “The substantial spending ability of gays and the funding support we got indicate the strong power of the so-called pink economy.”

For comparison, consider Grindr. As the world’s other best-known gay dating app, Grindr was valued at $155 million earlier this year when it sought its most recent investment in China. Grindr has more than two million daily active users, according to a factsheet from June 2015. Blued has over three million.

The numbers bode well for Blued, which is preparing to shift its strategy in light of the good news. Last November, Geng Le said that Blued was aiming for a stock market flotation within five years. China Daily reports that the company now hopes to achieve it within the next one to two years, though the location of the listing is not yet known.

Grindr Hooks Up With Chinese Gaming Company

  • Tuesday, February 23 2016 @ 10:49 am
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Grindr Dating App

Gay dating app Grindr has partnered up with a Chinese gaming company for its first-ever outside investment. Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., the company that helped introduce Angry Birds to China, offered $93 million in cash for 60 percent of New Grindr LLC.

Beijing Kunlun Chairman Zhou Yahui came across the opportunity while scouting other potential investments in the U.S., said a company spokeswoman, Sophie Chen. Grindr is one of seven deals Zhou has overseen for Kunlun since April. The company hopes its newest addition will broaden its portfolio of services and create a new source of revenue. It is expected to leverage Grindr's popularity to augment income from outside China by directing users towards its games.

“Grindr is the top platform in their area and is mostly known as data-driven, as well as for their great user base,” Chen said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. “It’s essential to the Kunlun global Internet eco-sphere.”

Although the deal awaits antitrust review by the U.S. Government, Bloomberg reports that Beijing Kunlun’s shares rose by the maximum daily 10 percent limit after news of the pact went public.

The move isn't a surprise for those who have been following Grindr's maneuvers behind the scenes. The app had been exploring a sale or fundraising round for much of last year in hopes of accelerating its growth beyond the matchmaking sphere.

In the wake of Kunlun's majority investment, Grindr has been valued at $155 million and founder Joel Simkhai assured users that it would be “business as usual” for the app in an open letter posted on the company blog.

“For nearly seven years, Grindr has self-funded its growth, and in doing so, we have built the largest network for gay men in the world,” he writes. “We have taken this investment in our company to accelerate our growth, to allow us to expand our services for you, and to continue to ensure that we make Grindr the number one app and brand for our millions of users.”

Simkhai also promises “a renewed sense of purpose” and “additional resources” post-investment, as well as new features and services planned for 2016.

Grindr, founded in 2009, hosts 2 million visitors daily across 196 countries, according to a company fact sheet. Despite its runaway success, the Los Angeles-based mobile app does not list China among its top 10 markets by daily active users. The US takes the top spot, followed by the UK, Mexico, Brazil and France.

China’s attitude toward homosexuality has changed radically in the past decade, meaning the scene could finally be set for Grindr to expand within the country, although it will face stiff competition from a domestic gay social networking app (founded by a former police officer) called Blued.

Dating app Grindr hooks up with Chinese gaming investor

  • Thursday, February 04 2016 @ 09:25 am
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The business of online dating continues to grow, as more apps enter the market and compete for funding from investors ready to cash in on the next Tinder. The latest financial news in the industry involves popular gay dating app Grindr, who just announced that Chinese online gaming titan Beijing Kunlun Tech has taken a “majority investment” in their app.

According to The New York Times, Beijing Kunlun’s stake in the company will be about 60%, with the remainder to be owned by Grindr employees and Joel Simkhai, the company's founder. The valuation of Grindr seems to be about $155 million according to the same article, although the actual amount invested was not disclosed.

Interestingly, Grindr had not raised capital from outside investors prior to their deal with Beijing Kunlun. The company was started and funded by Simkhai himself, who began with only a few thousand dollars. He grew the company and the brand: according to PC Magazine, the average user spends up to 54 minutes a day on the app – a figure that exceeds Facebook’s 42 minutes and Instagram’s 21 minutes.

According to leaked documents back in August, Grindr predicted pulling in about $38 million for 2015.

According to Financial Review, Carter McJunkin, chief operating officer of Grindr said in an interview: "We have users in every country in the world, but in order to get to the next phase of our business and grow faster, we needed a partner," McJunkin added that the relationship made sense for Grindr because of Beijing Kunlun's digital expertise, and because the company agreed to let Grindr's founders continue its operating structure and retain its current team.

Beijing Kulun saw Grindr as a good opportunity to expand beyond its core gaming focus, into more of an overall “lifestyle” brand. 

It’s interesting to note that Beijing Kunlun’s choice to purchase stake in a gay dating app seems incongruous, since homosexuality is still a taboo subject in China, and many gay people face widespread discrimination. It is not clear if Grindr intends to expand its business into the Chinese market, but there would be social stigma to overcome.

Beijing Kulun might see Grindr as a sound investment above all, despite its target market. Or perhaps they are paving the way for other Chinese investors to expand and reach out to invest in more diverse, successful brands outside of China. "We have been very impressed by Grindr's progress to date and are extremely excited about the future of the company," Yahui Zhou, chairman of Kunlun, said in a statement. "We will continue to seek out and invest in high-quality technology companies led by top-tier management across the globe.” For more information on this gay dating app you can check our our Grindr Topic.

Musicians Looking to Dating Apps to Promote Music

  • Friday, July 31 2015 @ 07:35 am
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Musicians are having to find new and more organic ways to promote their new albums, since people are discovering content in different ways outside of traditional radio. To capture new – and especially younger – fans, artists who are serious about promotion are now looking to dating apps, and finding some success.

Millennials are the largest group of consumers of music, and they also tend to be on dating apps like Tinder and Grindr. So it only makes sense that music and dating apps would eventually come together.

Some recent examples: Madonna's latest album was advertised on Grindr, a dating app for gay men, while Jason Derulo debuted a music video on Tinder. PlentyofFish was one of the first dating sites to link itself to an artist, by making an appearance in Derulo’s 2010 video for his song “Ridin Solo.” POF also worked with Lady Gaga during a U.S. tour, offering fans a chance to win tickets and backstage passes.

Other popular dating sites are linking to musicians, too - Mariah Carey premiered her music video for the single, "Infinity" via her new profile on, and DJ-producer Afrojack answered questions about love and relationships for eight hours on Match’s Twitter account to promote his new single.

The latest musician to take advantage of the wide reach of dating apps is Zedd, the Grammy-winning DJ-producer. He worked with Tinder to promote his album, "True Colors," released last month, by setting up his profile on the dating app. While Tinder users searched for dates, they would come across Zedd's promotional profile. They could swipe left or right, as with any other potential match. But instead of messaging him or setting up a date, if they swiped right, they could purchase his new album at a discounted price of $3.99 (compared to $7.99 on iTunes).

According to a recent story from Associated Press, “True Colors” debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 albums chart its first week with 39,000 copies sold. While no specifics were given about how many sales were the direct result of Tinder users swiping right on Zedd’s profile, chances are the app had something to do with the album’s popular debut.

According to Tinder, eighty-five percent of its users are between the ages 18-34, and the average user spends about 11 minutes on the app each day — one of the main reasons artists are looking to work with Tinder in particular. It makes sense. Since users’ engagement with dating apps is pretty high, artists have their attention, at least for a few seconds, which is long enough to swipe right and learn more.

Are Dating Apps to Blame in the Rise of STDs?

  • Sunday, June 14 2015 @ 12:28 pm
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Popular dating apps like Tinder and Grindr have a reputation of being so-called "hook-up" apps. While more and more people are turning to dating apps to meet singles for long-term love and/ or a casual affair, this trend appears to coincide with a rise in the rates of syphilis and HIV, too.

Public health officials in Rhode Island released a health report last week stating that there has been a 79% rise in syphilis cases in the state between 2013 and 2014, and that it’s attributable in part to the use of social media and dating apps to arrange casual or anonymous hookups. People having unprotected sex, multiple sex partners, and having sex under the influence of drugs and alcohol were also cited as reasons for the increase in STDs.

“These new data underscore the importance of encouraging young people to begin talking to a doctor, nurse, or health educator about sexual health before becoming sexually active and especially after becoming sexually active,” Rosemary Reilly-Chamma of the Rhode Island Department of Education said in the report.

A rise in STDs, particularly HIV and syphilis, were also reported in New York, Utah, and Texas, where officials have warned of increased risk of transmission. The New York City Health Department announced earlier this year that men in the neighborhood of Chelsea had the highest infection rate of syphilis in the country.

Anindya Ghose, co-author of a study that monitored the rise of STDs along with the launch of Craiglist personals ads, believes that online dating apps have had a similar effect. "Basically what the Internet does is makes it a lot easier to find a casual partner," he told VICE News. "Without the Internet you'd have to put effort into casual relationships, chatting with someone at the bar or hanging out in places, but these platforms make it a lot more convenient and easy. That's essentially what the primary driver is."

Others disagree, citing a lack of education and resources, especially for young people, the largest group at risk. They argue that community health providers, doctors, and even schools should educate people about the risks of not using condoms and other protection when engaging in casual sex. Access to condoms and affordable healthcare are two big concerns.

Social media and dating apps make it easier to meet people, but they didn’t create the problem of STD risk. They magnified a problem that already existed – casual sexual encounters without adequate knowledge of safety and protection leave people vulnerable to risk.

Will Grindr Soon Be Up For Sale?

  • Friday, May 29 2015 @ 06:37 am
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Infamous hookup app Grindr may quietly be looking for a hookup of its own: a hookup with a buyer.

Word on the street is that the LA-based company has hired Raine Group LLC to advise on a possible sale. Bloomberg reports that “the sale process is early and no deal is assured,” so for the moment Grindr is keeping details under wraps.

Joel Simkhai founded Grindr in 2009 with $5,000. Since then, the explosively popular app has gained more than 5 million users in 192 countries. It claims to be the biggest male mobile social network in the world, and has become a bona fide pop culture phenomenon.

Oddly, despite its meteoric rise to the top of the gay dating app heap, Grindr remains self-funded with no outside investors. Revenue comes from a premium subscription service called Grindr Xtra, a paid upgrade that offers increased functionality and eliminates advertising for $12 per month.

In 2011 Simkhai launched Blendr, a dating app for both men and women that uses similar geolocation technology. So far it has yet to soar to the heights reached by its predecessor.

The problems Grindr and Blendr currently face are not unique. The dating industry is massive and cutthroat. Research by IBISWorld found 3,924 dating services in the US alone, which add up to revenue of about $2 billion. Competition is in ample supply, and it isn't easy for paid services to go head-to-head with free options.

The business model itself offers a special set of challenges. Dating services struggle to retain customers and sustain revenue growth for an amusingly obvious reason: because ideal use of the service means no more need of it. A success story ends in finding love, settling down, and never needing to date again.

A short-term solution to the problem, at least for Simkhai himself, is a sale. IAC (InterActiveCorp) could perhaps be a likely buyer, as it controls the majority of the online dating market in America through ownership in platforms like Tinder, OKCupid, and Grindr would be a powerful addition to IAC's already-powerful lineup.

It is not known how – or even if – a sale would impact users, but it's probably safe to assume drastic changes aren't on the way for an app that's already had so much success. Although with more money and muscle behind it, who knows how much growth could be in store for Grindr?

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