Grindr connects gay men to the world that brings them happiness. The company aims to become the preeminent global gay lifestyle brand, bringing together gay men with the people, places and things they care about most. – Grindr Company Fact Sheet, June 2015
As the first location-based dating and social app, Grindr launched in 2009 in order to connect 18+ gay, bisexual and curious men with other local men. It offers both a free, ad-supported version and a monthly subscription version (no adds, ability to see more nearby users).
Men can look for other men to find friendship, to network, for dates, long-term relationships and one-time intimate encounters.
To date, Grindr has 2 million daily users who access the app an average of 9 times per day for an average of 54 minutes (versus 15 on Tinder (Source)). Users send over 70 million messages and 5 million pictures daily. (Grindr Company Fact Sheet, June 2015). On December 9, 2015 , Grindr was the #50 highest grossing Paid App on the app store, retaining a high spot even 6 years after its launch (Source)
While the company does not disclose financials, leaked documents suggest an expected 2015 annual revenue of $38 million (from $16 million in 2012) with expected growth up to $77 million by 2018. (Source). 25% of the revenue comes from advertising (which includes location-based pop-ups from nearby bars) and 75% comes from member subscription fees ($10-12 per month) (Source).
With a small team of 30 employees (Source), Grindr achieves its business goals by keeping its user interface simple and open ended, simulating a bar-like experience where you can asses all your options and only interact with those you are interested in interacting with.
- Profiles: Grindr keeps a very simple profile that allows for one picture (no explicit images allowed), physical trait descriptors (height, weight, ethnicity, body type, among others) as well as extra space for more detailed personal information (such as a ‘Interested In?’ section as well as an open ended text field). It also allows users to link their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to further leverage social media.
- Profile View: Unlike other apps such as Tinder and Hinge (which show only one profile at a time), Grindr presents its user with a scroll-able grid of nearby users, allowing one to select a profile for more detailed information. Once in a profile, users can easily switch between profiles with a simple swipe.
- Connecting: Grindr allows users to communicate with a very simple messaging functionality. Users can text each other as well as send each other pictures. This is where Grindr’s competitive advantage lies. Grindr allows users to text other users and send pictures without the consent of the person receiving the message. If the person receiving a text or image is not interested, he simply ignores the communication or blocks the sender.
Some contend that this sort of unrestricted messaging is intrusive. In fact, one of the ways Tinder seeks to explicitly differentiate itself is by only allowing users who have anonymously expressed mutual interest in each other to connect and by making it impossible for users to send pictures to one another (in order to avoid unsolicited explicit images) (Source). However this interface lowers the barriers for communication and allows users who are interested in all types of interactions to easily communicate with one another (more an opt-out model than opt-in). In practice, most messages sent are the generic “Hey”, “How’s it going?”, “sup?” and “looking?”. Additionally, most Grindr messages sent go unanswered; ignoring has become the new way to signal to the sender that a user is not interested.
- Privacy: Because Grindr also targets curious/questioning/closeted men, it allows users to simply sign up with an e-mail address (not shown to other users) and to choose a username of their choice. Additionally, it doesn’t require users to use their real name or even show their face in the profile picture. While Tinder’s use of Facebook accounts helps build trust among its users (in terms of authenticity), it would not allow those who wish to remain anonymous to use the app, thereby creating a gap between the operating and business models.
- Advocacy: By de-stigmatizing gay networking and sexual encounters by creating a well-known mobile app, Grindr has created a social network that can reap countless benefits to the gay community overall. Partnering with World AIDS Day, the CDC, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Grindr regularly conducts surveys on sexual behavior, HIV status, PrEP usage (daily pill that has shown promise in preventing HIV infection), and general experiences with the medical profession (certain ethnicities having a hard time talking to doctors about the issues, etc.) (cite). Grindr also provides reminders to users to get tested as well as links to resources on getting HIV treatment and counseling (Source).
Conclusion: Grindr’s operating model efficiently works to deliver its value proposition to its users: a location based networking/dating/hookup app that allows users to set their own level of privacy and limits barriers for communication in order to maximize user interaction.