The OPW/iDate Weekly News Summary.
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Blued Gay Dating App Plans Nasdaq IPO
REUTERS - June 16 - BlueCity Holdings, owner of China's biggest dating app for gay men, aims to raise $50M from an IPO of American depositary shares (ADSs). The offer price for each ADS is yet to be finalised, and it will be traded on the Nasdaq global market under the symbol "BLCT". Founded in 2011, BlueCity says it has 49M registered users in ~210 countries. It added that it has 6M monthly active users, 49% of them from outside China.
Grindr's New Owners Want to Create a 'Positive Place for Everyone'
ADVOCATE - June 15 - Grindr officially has new owners. The popular LGBTQ+ dating app has announced Jeff Bonforte, Rick Marini, and Gary Hsueh as its new CEO, COO, and CFO, respectively. The trio is part of a group of investors that purchased a 98.59% stake in Grindr through San Vicente Acquisition Partners for $608.5M from Beijing Kunlun Tech, a Chinese company that acquired it in 2016. As background, both Bonforte and Marini identify as straight and boast robust résumés in Silicon Valley. A former member of the executive team at Yahoo!, Bonforte helmed Yahoo! Mail, Messenger, and Flickr, among other key areas of the company. He also founded and ran five startups. Marini is the former head of Digital Innovation at Hearst Corporation and was the founder & CEO of BranchOut, the Facebook professional networking app. He was also named one of 2018's Top 50 Angel Investors by Forbes; as an angel investor, he has helped grow Snapchat, Reddit, Opendoor, Poshmark, PAX, and OutReach. "I don't think you have to be gay to want to have a strong, healthy, safe LGBTQ community," Bonforte said. "And so I think we see Grindr's role in that, and we hope we can further it." "It won't be a perfectly smooth road, there will be challenges in the future," Bonforte predicted. Priority on "day one," they said, is user safety and security. In this area, the company has already conducted a partial audit, and a full audit of these features is now under way. However, don't expect any sweeping redesign. "You have to be careful not to dabble with the core product," Bonforte said, adding, "We don't want to hurt Grindr. It's so good."
Dating Apps Exposed 845GB of Explicit Photos, Chats, and More
WIRED - June 15 - Security researchers Noam Rotem and Ran Locar were scanning the open Internet on May 24 when they stumbled upon a collection of publicly accessible Amazon Web Services "buckets." Each contained data from a different niche dating app, including 3somes, Cougary, Gay Daddy Bear, Xpal, BBW Dating, Casualx, SugarD, Herpes Dating, and GHunt. In all, the researchers found 845 gigabytes and close to 2.5M records, likely representing data from hundreds of thousands of users. The information was particularly sensitive and included sexually explicit photos and audio recordings. WIRED reached out to 3somes and Herpes Dating and attempted to reach Cheng Du New Tech Zone, but did not receive a reply. This was not a hack; it was sloppily stored data.
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Bharat Matrimony Launches Video Chat
TIMES OF INDIA - June 18 - Bharat Matrimony has launched a new online video chat feature. Woman can only receive video calls from premium members they contacted or responded to earlier. On the other hand, men can get video calls from any premium female member and will be able to call only women who responded to their earlier enquiry.
Happn, and Other Brands Accused of Misusing Data to Advertise on Facebook
VICE - June 16 - An investigation by Privacy International (PI) showed that some companies are advertising on Facebook using the data of people they have never interacted with. In October of 2019, PI began an investigation - published today - into advertisers that upload their customers' personal data to Facebook, using the site's "Download Your Information" (DYI) tool. Brands, found to have uploaded user data to Facebook without individuals' consent or knowledge, included the dating app Happn and artists associated with the Universal Music Group. In response, Happn admitted that one PI staff member's information was still in a database shared with Facebook, when it should have been removed. Otherwise, they said that if Privacy International "requesters have seen Happn promoted content on Facebook while they were in the restriction list, it was not under any particular instructions from Happn". Facebook also blamed outside parties. The PI report also claims Facebook makes it difficult for users to seek information about companies using and profiting from their personal data.
Virtual Dating on the Rise, Says Match CEO
FINANCIAL TIMES - June 18 - According to Sharmistha Dubey, the new CEO of Match Group, online dating has exploded, with the average number of daily messages sent across all of Match's platforms increasing ~30% in April, compared with the end of February. In particular, users are taking advantage of new video chat features in many of Match's flagship apps that allow them to go on virtual dates without leaving their houses. After taking an initial dive earlier this year due to the pandemic, Match Group shares have now fully recovered and are currently nearing all-time highs at around $92.
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Match and Bumble Settle All Litigation
SEEKING ALPHA - June 13 - Match Group and Bumble say they've settled all litigation between the two. They're not disclosing any more information, but say they're both "pleased with the amicable resolution." Match had accused Bumble of patent infringement in March 2018, and has been accusing Bumble of "exploiting" the COVID-19 crisis to delay the lawsuit for tactical advantage.
Bumble Bridges Support for LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter With in-app Donations
ADAGE - June 15 - As Americans began rallying for racial equality, several brands postponed their original Pride plans or announced that they would incorporate Black Lives Matter support into their Pride initiatives. Bumble is one of the first brands to announce its new merged Pride, Black Lives Matter initiative. Bumble's new in-app campaign asks users to donate to LGBTQ+ organizations that support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). Bumble is also donating $5K each to select organizations that provide services for at-risk committees.
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