China’s gaming billionaire picks 60% stake in US gay dating app Grindr for $93m

Visual from Grindr Twitter page

One of China’s newly minted technology billionaires signed a deal to buy a controlling stake in Grindr, the world’s biggest gay social-networking app.

Beijing Kunlun Tech Co., an Internet games company that helped introduce Angry Birds to China, offered $93 million in cash for 60 percent of New Grindr LLC, the company said in a statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange. Beijing Kunlun Chairman Zhou Yahui, who became a billionaire after the company listed shares last year, was scouting other potential investments in the U.S., according to a company spokeswoman, Sophie Chen.

Zhou, worth $1.7 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has overseen seven deals for Kunlun since April — including Grindr and a minority stake in British mortgage lender LendInvest Ltd. The addition of the mobile app Grindr will broaden its portfolio of services and create a new source of revenue, the company said.

In February, developer Rovio Entertainment Oy said it signed an exclusive deal with Kunlun to develop a version of the hit mobile game Angry Birds tailored for Chinese players. Kunlun also has distribution rights for Supercell Oy’s Clash of Clans and Boom Beach, and Electronic Arts Inc.’s Need for Speed, according to Chen.

Changing Culture

“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. “It’s essential to the Kunlun global Internet eco-sphere.”

Beijing Kunlun’s shares rose by the maximum daily 10 percent limit after it announced the pact. The deal awaits antitrust review by the U.S. government.

“We have taken this investment in our company to accelerate our growth,” Joel Simkhai, founder of Grindr, said in a blog post. “It will generally be business as usual for us here at Grindr, but with a renewed sense of purpose and additional resources.”

Dating apps are struggling to sustain revenue growth, partly because customers tend to stop paying for the service after they find a match. IAC/InterActiveCorp controls the majority of U.S. dating application market share through its ownership of Match, OKCupid and Tinder, while Grindr’s direct competitors include Scruff and Jack’d.

Grindr, which calls itself the world’s largest gay social network, hosts 2 million visitors daily across 196 countries, according to a company fact sheet. The Los Angeles-based mobile app was released in 2009 and matches users based on personal photos and location.

China’s attitude toward homosexuality has undergone a radical transformation in the past decade. Once a facet of Chinese culture among the elite, it was pushed underground during the Communist era, and the Chinese Psychiatric Association officially classified homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder until 2001.

Recently, the gay scene has seen a resurgence. Blued, a domestic gay social-networking app founded by a former police officer, has attracted more than 3 million daily users and secured funding from venture capitalists DCM Ventures.

Also Read: India: Online dating app Tinder names Taru Kapoor as India head

Singapore: Dating platform Paktor expands leadership team for growth beyond Asia

Bloomberg

 

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.