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Grindr’s Chinese owners are selling the headless torso app for a cool $608 million

Josh Milton March 6, 2020
The saga of who would buy Grindr has reached its climax, after an unnamed consortium of investors bought the dating app. (CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

The saga of who would buy Grindr has reached its climax, after an unnamed consortium of investors bought the dating app. (CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Everyone’s favourite tiled headless torso app Grindr is to be sold off for around $608.5 million.

The dating app found itself a match in 2016 with Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd. The firm paid $93 million for a 60 per cent stake in the gay dating app, which is based in West Hollywood, before buying the rest in 2018.

But the acquisition raised alarms among a panel of US administrators, many flagging privacy concerns.

The panel, dubbed the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, did not disclose its concerns in detail, but sources said administrators have increasingly steeped app developers in scepticism about how personal data is handled. Some have cited fears the Beijing could use personal information to blackmail or influence American officials.

Kunlun, one of the largest mobile gaming companies, confirmed Friday it agreed to sell its 98.59 per cent stake in Grindr to San Vicente Acquisition LLC. The news of the deal came after murmurs of an imminent deal were broken by newswire Reuters.

Grindr sold after years of controversy.

Founded in 2009 with a few thousand dollars of his own money, Joel Simkahi’s black and yellow app changed the dating game for millions of queer people across the world.

Kunlun executives expressed their delight when first acquiring Grindr, eager to explore outside of their usual gaming app remit and into lifestyle.

But the digital app heated up in recent years since being sold, however, as it became a hub for controversy, facing a federal investigation, layoffs and internal turmoil.

The situation flared when Into – a Grindr’s in-house digital magazine – published a piece stating that the app’s president, Scott Chen, wrote that marriage should be “between a man and a woman”.

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

Sending seismic shockwaves across the company and denting one of the most recognisable gay brands in the world, within two months the entire staff of Into were laid off.

Moreover, government scrutiny even hamstrung the company’s plans for an initial public offering. Lawmakers cited concerns about how the app shared user’s personal data – including its users’ HIV statuses – to third-party groups.

Nevertheless, the bumpy saga of the future of the app appears to have come to an end. Sources told Reuters that one of the investors in the group is James Lu, a former executive of Chinese search engine giant Baidu.

The identities of the other investors in the consortium could not be immediately named.

More: Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd, Grindr, into, San Vicente Acquisition LLC, scott chen

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