China’s Grindr ‘Blued’ Lands New Financing, Eyes U.S. IPO

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Chinese gay flirting app Blued announced on Wednesday the completion of a Series C and C+ round led by Ventech China and Vision Knight Capital respectively. The startup said the funding size is in the hundreds of millions of RMB, without disclosing the specific amount.

Founded as a virtual community for gay men in 2000, Blued has grown rapidly along with changing public attitudes toward gay people. The app now claims to have 27 million users as of February this year, of which 20%, or 6 million, come from overseas markets. The company claims to dominate nearly 90% of China’s gay instant messaging market.

Blued, which already available in 9 languages, is now eying an international expansion to compete with the likes of highly-popular U.S. app Grindr, which recently sold a stake to Chinese firm Beijing Kulun. The proceeds from Blued’s latest injection are earmarked for building offices in more countries, recruitment, localization and acquisitions.

The investment will also be used for boost its commercialization initiative through mobile marketing and video streaming. The company told Technode their revenue is expected to hit the hundreds of millions [RMB] in 2016, of which video streaming is major source.

Blued’s goal for the long-term is pretty clear: to raise money by going public and become the number one global player in the industry, said Geng Le, founder of the company.

It seems that Geng isn’t talking about something far-reaching. Blued has overtaken Grindr as the world’s largest same-sex matchmaking app in 2014, while the user metrics for the two companies were 15 million and 10 million, respectively.

Blued has been aggressively raising new funds over the past three years. The company landed three rounds of financing previously, including a 3 million RMB angel round from Zhonglu Capital in 2013, an eight-digit A round from Crystal Stream and a $30 million USD B round led by DCM China in 2014.

Blued’s top rival Zank secured an eight-digit RMB Series B funding last week to develop an e-commerce platform and video streaming business aimed at the gay market.