To coincide with Pride month in the US, China-based gay social networking app Blued has announced that it has completed its latest rounds of investor financing – and that it now has a value of $300million.
The app, which was founded in 2012, has grown rapidly and now has 27million registered users. It says that 20% of those are now outside of China. It is one of the most-downloaded social networking apps in App Store.
The site was founded by a gay entrepreneur and former policeman, Geng Le. He left the police in the early 00s to work on creating his own LGBT-themed website, Danlan. This gave rise to the company Blue City, and then Blued in 2012.
The app’s success is partly down to being among the first Chinese-language geo-dating apps in the region. Given that China’s population is 1.3billion, with an estimated LGBTI population of 1.7million, the potential for such an app is enormous.
By comparison, Grindr – the world’s other best known gay hook-up app – was valued at $155million earlier this year when it too turned to China for its most recent investment. In January, it announced that it had sold a majority 60% stake to Beijing Kunlun Tech Co.
China Daily reports that those involved with the latest rounds of Blued financing included Vision Knight Capital (China) Fund, Mobile Games and Entertainment Group Ltd, Ventech China, and Hong Kong’s New World Development Co Ltd.
Blued said it had raised ‘several hundred millions’ of yuan from the financing but did not disclose details (100million yuan is equivalent to approximately $15million)
Commenting on the latest round of financing, Geng Le said Blued had seen its revenue increase greatly in recent months and had moved into profit in early 2016.
‘The gay business is a piece of virgin territory in China’
‘With the funding, we plan to speed up our international expansion, and localize our products overseas. We will promote the marketing and branding, and set up more offices overseas.
‘We also plan to hire more competitive staff, and we will pay them a considerable salary.’
Blued – which is available in nine languages – has previously engaged in initiatives to raise its profile abroad. Last year, it flew several Chinese gay couples to the US to undergo symbolic wedding ceremonies.
The couples won the trip through a competition on Blued. Although Geng Le told Gay Star Business at the time that the purpose of the trip was to raise the issue of marriage equality back home in China, it also did no harm in also promoting the app’s profile outside the country.
‘The gay business is a piece of virgin territory in China, and we hope to become a leader of this lucrative market,’ Geng Le told China Daily this week.
‘The substantial spending ability of gays and the funding support we got indicate the strong power of the so-called pink economy.’
Last November, Geng Le said that Blued was aiming for a stock market flotation within five years. China Daily says its now hoping for this to happen in the next 1-2 years but which stock market it hopes to list on remains unknown.