Gay dating app Grindr receives first-ever investment of £64m from Chinese tech company

Chinese company Beijing Kunlun Tech now owns a 60 per cent controlling stake in the dating app

Click to follow
The Independent Tech

Grindr, the dating and hookup app for gay and bisexual men, has just received millions of dollars in investment from a Chinese technology firm.

The company, Beijing Kunlun Tech, which is run by billionaire Zhou Yahui, paid $93 million (£64 million) for a 60 per cent controlling stake in the company - a significant sum for what is Grindr's first outside investment.

LGBT people still face severe discrimination in China, and although homosexuality has been legal since 1997, gay people don't have the right to get married and have no legal protection from discrimination in the workplace or other areas.

Despite China's record on LGBT rights, Grindr founder and CEO Joel Simkhai told users in an open letter that it would be "business as usual" for the company, although he added the additional resources would now let the company expand further.

It's not known whether the new deal will see Grindr grow in China, where it is currently being beaten by the much more popular Blued, a dating app for gay men that boasts around 15 million users in the country.

Unusually for a successful tech company, Grindr has always been self-sufficient, generating its own funds since it was created in 2009 rather than relying on hefty investments from venture capitalists.

Grindr raises money through subscription fees to the premium Grindr Xtra service and advertising. 

The app is currently used by millons of people a day in 192 countries, providing an important lifeline to gay men in places where they face discrimination. 

However, the app has faced criticism in the past over allegations that a feature that lets users see how far away other users are could let third parties track their locations - after it was reported that police in Egypt had been using this claimed security flaw to track and arrest gay people, it was disabled by the company.

Yahui said he had been "very impressed" by Grindr's growth, and said his company was "extremely excited" about the future of the partnership.

In his statement, Simkhai said the investment was a "huge vote of confidence" in his company's vision to "connect gay men to even more of the world around them," and signed off with the message: "Grind on."