Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 011316 Contents 01.13.2016 • 3
The Chinese are hooked on Grindr.
The notorious gay hook-up app, which
has suffered a brutal string of bad press while
racking up copious amounts of user information,
is soon to become majority owned by a Chinese
Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. is buying a 60 percent
stake in Los Angeles-based Grindr, the companies
Grindr, which caters to gay and bisexual men,
says it has built up its base of more than two million
daily users in 196 countries without taking money
from outside investors. But now it’s turning to
China to step up its expansion.
“We have taken this investment in our company
to accelerate our growth,” Grindr’s founder and
chief executive, Joel Simkhai, said in a blog post.
Beijing Kunlun, one of China’s largest game
developers, said it was paying $93 million for the
majority stake in Grindr, which launched in 2009.
In a statement, the Chinese company said the
investment would improve its strategic position.
But it remained vague about its plans for Grindr in
China, the world’s most populous country.
“We will grow in the U.S. first, but we also can
see our future as a global platform including
China,” said Sophie Chen, a spokeswoman for
The app is accessible in China, but its availability
has been intermittent in the past, with users
complaining of access problems in some cities.
The main player in the Chinese market for gay
dating apps is the homegrown Blued, which was
started in 2013 by Geng Le, a former police officer.
Geng, who says his app draws around 3 million
daily users, welcomed Beijing Kunlun’s investment
“It shows the Chinese capital market’s
acceptance of LGBT social networks and their huge
potential,” he said. “And it may make us rethink our
strategy by considering going public in the Chinese
stock market instead of overseas ones.”
Lu Xun, of San Francisco based Community
Marketing & Insights, Inc. estimates there are
70 million LGBT people in China. The Chinese
government decriminalized homosexuality in
1997 and removed it from a list of mental illnesses
in 2001 yet propaganda and culture officials often
take a conservative line, removing gay-themed TV
shows from the Internet and allowing homophobic
sex education textbooks.
In a presentation at the Fort Lauderdale Beach
Westin Resort last month, Lu revealed results from
a survey showing LGBT mobile apps are the most
effective means of communication for the LGBT
population in China.
The government hasn’t objected to gay dating
apps as long as they stick to its Internet rules that
restrict the dissemination of pornography and
politically sensitive information.
Investors appeared to welcome Beijing Kunlun’s
move for Grindr, driving the Chinese company’s
stock in Shenzhen up 10 percent on Tuesday to its
maximum daily limit.
Founded in 2008, Beijing Kunlun is barely older
than Grindr. It went public last year and employs
more than 1,000 people, according to its website.
In the U.S ., Grindr is often associated with stories
such as closeted anti-gay politicians; robberies or
sexually transmitted diseases. The app has long
been a punchline for comedians, such as Conan
O’Brien who created his own profile to explore the
gay scene during a bit on his late night talk show.
Additional reporting provided by CNN’s Jethro
Mullen and Steven Jiang.
Chinese Firm Buys Grindr
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