The OPW/iDate Weekly News Summary.
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Credit Suisse Halts Work on Chinese Gay Dating App Blued's IPO
BLOOMBERG - Jan 13 - Credit Suisse Group AG has stopped working on the upcoming U.S. IPO of Chinese gay dating app Blued. Credit Suisse joins other investment firms, including Citigroup and Bank of America that in recent months have dropped off the U.S. debuts of high-profile Chinese companies. It wasn't clear why Credit Suisse dropped off Blued's IPO, but it did so before the company filed publicly. Founded in 2012 by former policeman Geng, Blued has become an icon for the Chinese LGBTQ community and attracted ~$130M in venture capital as of March last year. Besides providing dating services to 40M users, the app also offers live streaming and connects men who want to become parents with overseas surrogates. Blued has said it's eyeing an IPO ideally in the U.S., which offers a simpler process and deeper capital markets.
Facebook Rolls out Major New Redesign to Small Number of Users
DAILYMAIL.CO.UK - Jan 13 - A small group of Facebook users have been offered the option to switch to FB5. The major new redesign features a brand new layout and improved privacy. The overhaul was originally announced last April at Facebook's annual developer's conference in San Francisco, where the company explained some of the changes it that would be coming. The new update will also see the widespread release of Facebook Dating. The Dating feature will let users create a list of 'Secret Crushes,' and when two people match they'll be prompted to message each other, similar to any other dating app.
Grindr and OkCupid Spread Personal Details, Study Says
NEW YORK TIMES - Jan 13 - Popular dating services like Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder are spreading user information like dating choices and precise location to advertising and marketing companies in ways that may violate privacy laws, according to a new report released by the Norwegian Consumer Council, a government-funded nonprofit organization in Oslo. Grindr also sent a user's location to multiple companies, which may then share that data with many other businesses, the report said. OkCupid app sent a user's ethnicity and answers to personal profile questions to a firm that helps companies tailor marketing messages to users. OkCupid has recently posted a list of ~300 advertising and analytics "partners" with which it may share users' information. Tinder sent a user's gender and the gender the user was looking to date to two marketing firms. The Norwegian group said it filed complaints asking regulators in Oslo to investigate Grindr and five ad tech companies for possible violations of the European data
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Microsoft Partners With The Meet Group on 'Grooming Detection Technique' for Messaging Apps
TECHNICAL.LY - Jan 13 - Microsoft has announced a new initiative called Project Artemis, a grooming detection technique it developed along with a handful of companies, including The Meet Group. The technique works with text-based conversations, and will scan, evaluate and "rate" conversation characteristics to determine if the language being used could be predatory. The rating will be sent to human moderators at participating companies for review, who can then identify threats and inform law enforcement. Project Artemis came out of a 2018 Microsoft hackathon which was sponsored by the WePROTECT Global Alliance and the Child Dignity Alliance. This new technology is the result of 14 months of cross-industry work from Microsoft, along with gaming and messaging app makers The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and others to help identify potential instances of child online grooming for sexual purposes and to operationalize an effective response.
Chinese Soul App Focuses on Shared Values Rather Than Appearances
TECHNODE - Jan 16 - Shanghai-based Renyimen Technology launched Soul App in late 2016. While most dating apps let users browse a feed of profile pictures to find matches, Soul App employs a mix of personality and interest tests to sort users. It then uses machine learning to generate pools of members with similar values and interests for users to choose from. Users cannot see any personal information of others, besides their test match score and their public posts. Soul App closed a $60M Series C led by GGV Capital in Dec 2018. In January 2018, the company raised tens of million dollars in a Series B from DST Global, Genesis Capital, and Morningside Venture Capital. Soul App has ~10M monthly active users.
Social and Communication Apps Continue to Hold Their Ground
MEDIAPOST - Jan 15 - That's according to App Annie's latest State of Mobile report, which found that social and communication apps maintained a dominant 50% share of time spent among the world's mobile users in 2019. Relative to time spent with other app categories, that was only down by 6% since 2016. Social and communication apps also remain a hot commodity. In 2019, consumers downloaded 9.5B such apps, and spent 25% more time using them than they did in 2017. Worldwide app downloads totaled 204B in 2019, which was up by 45% since 2016, the app analytics firm found.
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Twitter Suspends Grindr From Its Ad Platform
ADAGE - Jan 15 - Twitter says it suspended Grindr, the gay dating app, from its ad network after a report revealed privacy concerns with how the app shared personal data with marketing partners. The new report, commissioned by the Norwegian Consumer Council, alleged that Grindr transmitted personal information on its ~3M daily users worldwide to ad tech partners, including Twitter's MoPub, which is a mobile ad network that helps apps make money by filling their ad inventory. The report also names other advertising platforms OpenX and AppNexus, which help brands bid on ads through platforms like MoPub to appear on apps like Grindr. The report calls for a fines of Twitter, OpenX, AppNexus and Grindr. Under the GDPR, the maximum fine for a violation is up to 4% of annual revenue. In Twitter's case, that would amount to $120M, based on $3B revenue from 2018.
The Inner Circle Appoints Scott Harvey as Digital Communications Manager
EMERCE - Jan 12 - The Inner Circle expands the Dutch team by appointing Scott Harvey as Digital Communications Manager. Scott was previously Managing Editor at Global Dating Insights. Thanks to his knowledge of the dating industry, Harvey will manage all digital communication of the Dutch dating app.
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