The world’s biggest gay social-networking app, U.S.-based Grindr, has sold a majority stake to Chinese game developer Beijing Kulun Tech Co., chaired by newly-minted billionaire Zhou Yahui.
The sale will give Beijing Kulun a 60 percent stake in the business for $93 million USD in cash, the company said. Beijing Kulun, which listed in 2015, saw a 10 percent stock boost following the announcement. Mr. Zhou became a billionaire following the company’s listing, and is now valued at approximately $1.7 billion USD.
Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai said in a blog post that the partnership is a “huge vote of confidence in our vision to connect gay men to even more of the world around them,” hinting at Grindr’s potential to take on the gay networking market in China.
Currently that market is dominated by apps serving the gay male market, just like Grindr, though the number of apps for lesbian users are also on the rise. China’s biggest gay app (and Grindr’s biggest potential competitor) is BlueD, founded in 2000 by ex-police officer Geng Le. BlueD’s arch-rival Zank has also grown quickly in the past two years, followed by Jackd, G-Show and Waitta.
China’s gay networking market also features a series of odd services targeted directly at the local market. Queers, an app designed to help young people arrange sham marriages between gay and lesbian people, saw massive growth in the past year. GeeYuu, an app focussed on gay gaming communities is now in the top five most popular apps targeted at the gay market in China.
Related: 5 Things You Should Know About China’s Booming Gay App Market