Popular hookup app Grindr has sold a majority stake to a Chinese gaming company for $93 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Chinese company will acquire 60 percent of the company, while the rest will be owned by the app's founder and current employees.
"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," founder Joel Simkhai wrote in a blog post announcing the sale. "It will generally be business as usual for us here at Grindr, but with a renewed sense of purpose and additional resources to deliver a great product to you."
“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,” Grindr CEO Carter McJunkin told The New York Times in an interview. McJunkin noted that Beijing Kunlun will allow the app to retain their current team of employees and operating structure.
Reports vary on Grindr's valuation under the deal. The Los Angeles Times reports that the app is valued at $248 million while the New York Times puts the figure at $155 million.
Beijing Kunlun produces mobile video games for Chinese consumers. The company has been expanding globaly recently, picking up a livestreaming app, a grocery delivery company, and an online electronics store.
“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 to the New York Times. “We will continue to seek out and invest in high-quality technology companies led by top-tier management across the globe.”
China's record on LGBT issues is spotty at best. Same-sex marriages and civil unions are not recognized and LGBT citizens have no protections under the law.
The United States and China have been engaged in an cyber security war in recent years. The U.S. government has regularly accused the communist country of hacking into our government computer systems for espionage. It remains to be seen whether this conflict will have any affect on the app's popularity with Grindr's mostly American user base.