Into, Grindr's online LGBTQ publication, laid off its entire editorial staff and its corresponding social media team on Tuesday, because "the company will be refocusing its efforts on video."
Editors announced the mass layoff in a statement sent to press:
The team at Into was saddened to learn this morning that as of Jan. 15, we will no longer be with Grindr. The company will be refocusing its efforts on video and as such, the editorial and social teams were let go this morning. We feel that Into’s closure is a tremendous loss for LGBTQ media, journalism, and the world.
During our nearly two years, we created incredible, award-winning content for and about the LGBTQ community worldwide. We have been awarded with a GLAAD nomination and honored by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA); we were also given a special award from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF). We told stories of transgender prisoners forced to endure nightmarish treatment behind bars, LGBTQ asylum seekers looking for hope and refuge in the United States, and drag queens fighting for space and community in small town Tennessee. We shared the hopes and joys of the LGBTQ community, our successes and setbacks, and our triumphs and heartaches during a vulnerable political moment. We aimed to give a voice to those who need one now more than ever, a platform for them to see themselves represented wholly.
In that time, we built one of the largest LGBTQ platforms in history—using the power of social media to reach queer audiences around the globe. Others took notice. Our reporting was cited in notable publications like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Vanity Fair. We were the first national outlet to interview Christine Hallquist about her groundbreaking candidacy for the Vermont governorship, which would have made her the first trans person elected governor of a U.S. state. We helped start a national conversation on Girl, a Belgian film our publication termed “trans trauma porn.” We pushed the year’s biggest LGBTQ films to allow queer media publications access after years of being shut out and ignored by studios.
In doing so, we further proved what queer people have shown for decades: there is an audience, a desire, and a hunger for LGBTQ stories told by LGBTQ people. This includes all letters of the queer alphabet, including intersex, bisexual, pansexual, agender, and asexual communities that had long felt marginalized by mainstream media. Just as importantly, we centered the voices of queer and trans people of color after years of criticism that queer media was too white, too male, and too cisgender. We have hoped to lead by example.
To us, taking a moment to celebrate Into is not a matter of highlighting what we’ve done—although there is room for pride and reflection. It’s about doing what we will continue to do, inside or outside this publication: lift up and celebrate our community.
Thank you to our readers, freelance contributors, and all those who have supported us in the past year and a half. It was literally too good to be true.
Into, launched in August 2017, had branded itself as an LGBTQ news source that targeted millennials. As recently as December, Grindr was mentioned, alongside Tinder and Bumble, in a New York Times article that demonstrated how more dating apps were investing in editorial content like Into's.
However, Into's editorial team found itself at odds with management in November, when one of the digital magazine's reporters called out Scott Chen, the president of Grindr, for remarks that appeared to be anti-LGBTQ.
In a troubling Facebook post, Chen stated he believes marriage is a “holy matrimony between a man and a woman." Chen blasted the piece as "unbalanced and misleading" in the comments section of the Into article.
Additionally, Into made headlines in December for a commentary piece that called an Ariana Grande music video transphobic and racist. The piece sparked such a strong backlash on social media that editors had to issue an apology and remove the byline of its writer due to death threats.
Into's former editor in chief, Zach Stafford, recently left the publication and became The Advocate's editor in chief this week.
Grindr, begun by gay California man Joel Simkhai in 2011, was fully purchased by the Chinese corporation Kunlun in 2018. In addition to Chen's remarks, the gay dating app has been a source of several controversies related to its data privacy, such as 2018 reports that it was sharing users' HIV statuses with companies. Grindr has since vowed to stop this practice and strengthen its online security.
Landen Zumwalt — Grindr's former head of communications, who resigned after Chen's marriage comments — said he was "devastated" by the news of the Into layoffs on Twitter.
Just learned that Scott Chen/@Grindr has fired the entire @INTO editorial staff, GM, dev and social media team.
INTO has been such a powerful voice for young queer people everywhere. I am utterly devastated by this news.
— Landen Zumwalt (@LandenRafe) January 15, 2019
UPDATE: Grindr's communications team released a statement saying "a strategic shift to video" was the reason for the layoffs.
"As with any growing business, we have to continually evaluate what is best for Grindr," the statement read. "After a thoughtful and collaborative process, Grindr’s leadership decided to modify Into’s content mix to rely more heavily on video. This decision was driven by the high user engagement and development we see through channels such as Twitter and YouTube. With this strategic shift in focus, several Into employees will be leaving the company. This was a difficult decision and one that we do not take lightly. We want to thank these colleagues for all of their contributions to Grindr and our community."