Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings
[LINK] “Inside Grindr’s Quest to Become the First Global Gay Lifestyle Brand”
Vicehosts Jonathan Parks-Ramage’s article looking at the desire and apparent ability of Grindr to move beyond being a hookup app to being a broader social networking tool, a brand even.
To most gay men, Grindr is known as the world’s premiere dick pic delivery service. But lately, the company’s executives, programmers, and PR soldiers have been hard at work to shift the app’s image from “hookup helper” to “lifestyle brand.” When I visited the startup’s new Los Angeles headquarters, an 18,000-square-foot workspace located on the 14th floor of the Pacific Design Center Red Building, change was all anyone could talk about. The panoramic view of Los Angeles provided by floor-to-ceiling windows was inescapable. A diverse and attractive staff buzzed throughout the workplace, coding at large computers or lounging on modernist furniture. Morale was high, and conversations hummed with possibility. One thing was certain: This is far more than just the dick pic Death Star. This is the nerve center of a global tech company, and thanks to a recent majority investment by a Chinese gaming company, Beijing Kunlun Tech, it’s one that’s poised for major expansion.
The investment, which was announced in January, put Grindr’s valuation at $155 million. But though Beijing Kunlun has acquired 60 percent of the company, the investor allowed Grindr to keep its current operating team and structure. In short, Grindr has an influx of cash and a significant degree of autonomy to guide plans for global proliferation.
A motivating factor behind Beijing Kunlun’s investment was likely Grindr’s rapidly growing user base. A little over a year after CEO Joel Simkhai launched the app in 2009, Grindr had racked up more than one million users. The app now boasts more than seven million, with the highest concentration of members in the US. Users are also highly engaged: More than two million people use Grindr daily, and spend an average of 54 minutes on the app. Simply put: Grindr has the gay community by the balls. It wants to take this massive, highly attentive audience and, per press materials, “become the preeminent global gay lifestyle brand.”
The company has a variety of plans to achieve this. Some of the app’s initial rebranding plays include Slumbr, a celebrity-studded Pride party hosted at The Standard hotel in New York this year; Grindr Varsity, a clothing line benefiting Athlete Ally, a nonprofit fighting homophobia in sports; and Grindr For Equality, a gay rights advocacy initiative. Leaders in the company also hope to expand the functions of the app in coming years, to transform Grindr into something closer to a “gay social network.”