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Grindr up for sale after US calls Chinese owner ‘national security risk’

Reiss Smith March 27, 2019
Grindr logo on an iPhone screen

Grindr launched on the iPhone 10 years ago (Leon Neal/Getty)

Grindr will be sold after the Trump administration raised concerns regarding its Chinese parent company, reports suggest.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has labelled Beijing Kunlun Tech’s ownership a “national security risk”, sources told Reuters on Wednesday (March 27). It is unclear what CFIUS objected to specifically.

The sale comes three years after the Chinese gaming firm paid £70 million ($93 million) for a 60 per cent stake in the gay dating app, which is based in West Hollywood.

It acquired the remainder of the company for £115 million ($152 million) in January 2018, without submitting to a CFIUS review.

Chinese owned Grindr shared users’ HIV data

Two Democratic senators raised privacy concerns following the purchase, when it was revealed the app shared data—including its users’ HIV statuses—with third-party companies.

Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal wrote in a letter: “Grindr and those with whom it shares its users’ sensitive information has an obligation to both protect this data and ensure users have meaningful control over it.”

The app ceased sharing the data after a widespread backlash, though serious security flaws exposing users’ exact locations have since been revealed.

“Grindr has an obligation to protect this data.”

—Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal, US Senators

In November 2018, Grindr courted further controversy after its president Scott Chen said he believes marriage to be “between a man and a woman.” He later suggested that his words were taken out of context.

Grindr would have gone public

Grindr had been set to float on the stock market with an initial public offering (IPO).

Under this plan, Kunlun would have retained control of the app for the foreseeable future.

Facebook picture of Grindr president Scott Chen (scott chen/facebook)
Scott Chen sparked outrage with his Facebook post. (Scott Chen/Facebook)

It will now cut ties completely by selling outright.

Grindr describes itself as the world’s largest social network for LGBT+ people.

Launched in March 2009, the app counts as many as four million daily users in about 200 countries.

Grindr did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

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