Apr 16, 2024 - Technology

Exclusive: Grindr plans to offer a pocket "gayborhood"

Illustration of multiple location icons with the  LGBTQ+ flag on a map

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Grindr, the LGBTQ+ dating app, is set to introduce the biggest changes in its 15-year history, promising to deliver a "gayborhood in your pocket."

Why it matters: Grindr has been under pressure from both users and investors — changing little in recent years as competitors flooded the market, putting its central role in queer communities at risk.

Catch-up quick: Grindr CEO George Arison told Axios in an exclusive interview that the location-based app will launch a new feature called "Roam" allowing users to temporarily place their profile in a new location ahead of a trip, in order to plan that trip.

  • He also wants Grindr to connect its users to services, from restaurants to fitness and health professionals, offered with a "Grindr seal of approval."
  • "Do you want to find a LGBTQ-friendly GP or therapist? Grindr will do that for you," Arison said.
  • Users will also gain more options to differentiate their profiles: Someone looking for friends in a new city won't have to wade through everyone using the app for casual sex.
  • The changes are being tested now in several markets and Grindr expects to launch them fully later this year.

The intrigue: For years users had been "hacking" the app by inventing new uses for it — from sourcing travel tips to monkeypox vaccines — even though the app infrastructure itself barely changed.

  • "We're working to meet our users where they are," Arison said, "We had not added any enhanced features for a number of years."

By the numbers: Grindr has around 13 million monthly active users worldwide, and a market capitalization of around $1.8 billion.

  • Arison said Grindr's growth markets are Latin America and Asia, but added "In the US, almost 30% of Gen Z adults identify as queer. All of these people will need a tool for connecting with others."

Context: The rise of dating apps changed the face of LGBTQ+ communities made famous by neighborhoods like San Francisco's Castro District or D.C.'s Logan Circle.

What's next: "We are more likely to build curated experiences for our users in the top LGBTQ cities than to create our own accommodation service," Arison said.

  • "AI will fundamentally change how dating will be done, creating better ways of making connections — and our users will decide exactly how," he said.
  • "We need to lead them there, through the opportunity to participate in piloting features, and giving users a clear choice of whether they want to use this technology."

Meanwhile: Arison is bullish on the advantages of Grindr's Nov. 2022 listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The firm's 2018 purchase by a Chinese gaming firm was rolled back by U.S. regulators over national security concerns.

  • "Since we have parted ways with Chinese ownership the business has flourished financially. We are able to protect our users in ways they need: prioritizing their safety and the privacy of their data," he said.

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