China’s gay dating app Blued reportedly eyeing $200 million US IPO

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Chinese gay dating app Blued is planning a US initial public offering (IPO) that could raise around $200 million, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: Blued, which boasts 40 million users, is the largest social dating app for China’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community. The funding could help the company to expand its foothold both locally and in the global market.

  • Despite the developments, the LGBT community is still a controversial and highly regulated group in China. Depictions of same-sex relationships are banned from TV dramas and related content has been purged from Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
  • Blued’s global expansion may challenge US counterparts, Grindr and Hornet. Grindr, the world’s largest gay dating app, sold a majority stake to Chinese game developer Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. in 2016.  Blued invested an undisclosed sum in Hornet the same year.
  • Besides its core dating feature, the app also earns revenue through its livestream content and surrogacy matchmaking services. Blued may earn as much as 80% of its revenue from its livestream business, according to Sina Finance.

Details: The IPO will likely take place next year and could value the company at around $1 billion, according to Bloomberg citing people familiar with the mater.

Context: Launched in 2012, Blued has received a total of RMB 130 million of venture capital in seven financing rounds.

  • Investors include CDH Investments, UG Capital, Xiaomi chairman Lei Jun-backed Shunwei Capital, DCM Ventures, Vision Knight Capital, and state-run media The Beijing News.
  • Blued was accused early this year of not adequately enforcing its ban on underage users, putting teenagers at risk of online exploitation.
  • Rival Grindr resumed last month preparations for its IPO, after the process was suspended in September 2018 due to concerns that the data it collects from its three million daily users could be used by Kunlun to blackmail Americans, according to the Financial Times.