The world’s most popular gay hookup app is now based in China.
Blued, a smartphone program and company founded by Chinese CEO Gene Le, has ousted Grindr from the worldwide top spot of same-sex matchmaking apps.
Al Jazeera reports that Blued has skyrocketed to 15 million users since its launch in 2012, the majority of whom are from the Asian nation. In comparison, 10 million people worldwide have downloaded Grindr since its 2009 inception.
Le credits the quick growth of the app to several factors, including timing and China’s sizable gay market — the company estimates the number of Chinese men who have sex with men at 13 million. A recent $30 million investment from the Silicon Valley company DCM Ventures may have also played a hand.
“We are the first in the industry, using a number of indicators, including activity,” Le said.
Grindr and Blued are similar in design, and function through a home display of the nearest users’ profile pictures. The website indicates compatability with Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone 8.
Surprisingly, the app has also received help from the Chinese government, which Geng says has worked with Blued to disseminate HIV prevention information. But the antigay social clime in China, which banned homosexuality until 1997, may be playing in the app’s favor.
“People [in China] are more in the closet and less open about it [homosexuality], but the beautiful thing about the smartphone is that it’s a private device,” David Chao, a cofounder of DCM Ventures, told The Wall Street Journal. “Having a very private phone and being able to communicate with the gay community is a dream come true.”