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Grindr’s Big Plans to Get Into Everyone’s Pockets

The future of Grinding is more than just hookups and flirty texting, its creator told Queerty in an interview this week. These days, Joel Simkhai is looking at expanding his social app in directions that include community, events, matchmaking, and even — get this — women. The very idea!

“Our goal is to increase the number of people you’re meeting. That’s what Grindr is for us,” Joel explains. For him, Grindr is meant to be a means to an end, rather than just hanging out online for online’s sake. “We hope it’s a complement to real life socializing,” he said. “It’s one of the options you have for meeting people around you. We always encourage people to not rely on it, and not have it replace real life.”

The strength of Grindr, Joel says, is that is brings guys closer together — and not necessarily in a rubby-humpy sort of way. But in order to make that happen, he’ll need to have more homos on his platform than anyone else. To that end, he’s currently testing a Blackberry version. Once released, it’ll dramatically expand the user base. (To guys who Grind on their employer-issued phones, amirite?)

“We’re also quite interested in additional features,” Joel says, but then he gets all vague about it. What new features? And when? At first, he was reluctant to go into details aside from, “we’re planning a major release in the near future,” meaning somewhere between weeks and months.

But our conversation kept coming back to Grindr’s potential for bringing users together in physical locations. In the future, he said, Grindr might give you information about what’s going on around you, recommending interesting places in your vicinity. “We’re still working on the implementation,” he says. “With events and venues … it’s not specifically the place that I’m so interested in, but I’m interested in the congregation of people there. Grindr is about your immediate surroundings. We show you the guys around you. well, there’s a lot around you. An ATM is not so interesting … but if there’s a new party or a new performance, that impacts socialization.”

This isn’t exactly virgin territory for Grindr. The company’s been testing the meatspace waters by throwing hundreds of parties, all over the world. “We know that our guys are interested in going out,” says Joel with confidence.

But what about everyone else? For example, ladies. Or the guys who, for whatever reason, would rather touch women than each other. Rumors about a Grindr for lesbians or breeders have been smoldering for a long time, and Joel fanned the flames. “We see a lot of demand from non-gays,” notes Joel. “I think that’s interesting because what we’ve done with Grindr is shown the rest of the world that there’s a new way, and a better way, to socialize.”

Of course, straight people have no shortage of dating tools, and a much wider pool than gays. Grindr will need to refine its tool set in order to appeal to straights, not to mention to stay ahead of competing gay geolocators like Jack’d and Boy Ahoy. “Something we’re working on is letting you become more choosy,” adds Joel. “For me, the most important thing is to have you meet people who are similar to you, who have similar interests.” So, for example, no more awkwardness and frustration between users who are looking for sexytime and users who are monogamous gays just looking for friends.

And speaking of sexytime, we asked Joel if he sees the Grindr environment as an opportunity to present messages about safer sex. For example, San Francisco’s Department of Health recently released an app called “STD411″ that connects users to nearby clinics, and illustrates how risky various sex acts are for transmitting various diseases. Another recently-released app, iCondom, shows you how close you are to the nearest condom dispenser. Would Joel consider integrating that kind of education into his app?

Well, maybe. He is noncommittal. “I’d have to look at it,” he says. “You won’t see us advocating too much. We’ll do a little advocacy, but not too much. … We tend not to get too involved.” He adds: “We’ve got adults here, and adults like to be treated like adults. You can’t talk down to them.”

He was similarly nonchalant when we asked how closely he monitors his competitors.

“I don’t spend too much time looking at them,” he said. “We’re obviously aware of them. We remain the largest. I don’t know their daily users, but I suspect we have more users on a daily basis than they have total users. … I think the most important thing for the user is the size of the network. … It’s like eBay. it doesn’t make sense to have fifty eBays. From a user’s perspective, it’s beneficial to have one place where all the guys are, instead of hundreds.”

That’s certainly an ideal model for meat markets. But for Joel, Grindr is about more than just dating. It’s about getting to know each other more closely, and staying in touch.

“This notion of a connected community is quite powerful,” he said. “I’m quite interested in helping us connecting, and becoming a stronger community. … The dream is that in the pocket of every gay man is Grindr. Once you get to that assumption, all these possibilities become possible. You can communicate with everyone.”

[bottom photo via]

By:           Matt Baume is a writer, photographer, and raconteur in San Francisco. He writes about LGBT issues for NBC Bay Area, The Bay Area Reporter, SFist, and others; and he also maintains the Prop 8 news-tracking site Stop8.org.
On:           Dec 9, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , ,

  • 33 Comments
    • Spike
      Spike

      Grinder, what a waste of time, nothing more then a bathhouse.esq hook-up app for the 20somethings. Anyone 35+ that didn’t delete the app after two weeks is kidding themselves. Lesbians and breeders won’t bother with the app as they typically involve the female species, who statistically don’t hook up at the frequency that guys (gay & str8t) prefer to.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Xtincta
      Xtincta

      Part of the appeal of Grindr is that it’s specifically for gay men and their proclivities. If they make it available for women and “the straights” I may use an alternative app.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Xtincta
      Xtincta

      Oops I meant alternate*

      Dec 9, 2010 at 12:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Wolfi
      Wolfi

      Maybe before all these great things he should start by porting it to the fastest growing mobile OS around, Android… :)

      Dec 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nathan
      Nathan

      @Spike: Sour grapes much?

      Dec 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      Considering that huge numbers of people use blackberries for work, just sit back and wait for the inevitable “Caught using grindr on company property” stories.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 1:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tisha
      Tisha

      FYI…lesbians/bis hook up :) so why not a grindr for girls?

      Dec 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brandon H
      brandon H

      It doesn’t work if your not 6 feet tall, waxed, have cheese grater abs and are under the age of 30.

      Scruff is a little better for those of us who are not that, but needs more users.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 4:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael

      This is an awfully long article to state the obvious: Not enough subscribers to keep the boat afloat. Internet apps come and go – Mazel tov, Grindr.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charlie Jackpot
      Charlie Jackpot

      I WANT IT FOR ANDROID, I am borderline slutty and want to hook up

      Dec 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike
      Mike

      Release the damn blackberry version already! They were saying it was only weeks away back in June.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael [Different person #1 using similar name]

      If I had a dollar for every time I was sexually harassed or felt threatened on this app… And the support team is completely useless. Anybody else want to start writing some letters to the apple store? I have a folder of evidence of users soliciting drugs and prostitution, threatening to use the GPS feature to track me down, etc…

      If you guys have any gems e-mail me.

      Dec 9, 2010 at 11:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      EXCEPT ANDROID!!! Was this a Grindr press release passed off as an article? No mention of Grindr on Android? Maybe a real reporter would have asked about that!

      Dec 10, 2010 at 2:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gil
      Gil

      Grindr is a perfect example of how an inferior product can make headway because it was the first on the market. Jack’d is a much superior app, allowing three photos instead of one, plus private pics, and also has filters so you can specify the type of guy you want, etc., but it was too late entering the market (used to be hamstrung by its former hard-to-pronounce name, “Gage Diehl”, and as such, it has fewer users and lags behind Grindr.

      Dec 10, 2010 at 7:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eric
      Eric

      STD411?

      Sounds like a Grindr add-on where you can instantly see the latest test results from the guy you’re about to hook up with.

      Dec 10, 2010 at 7:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve
      Steve

      They REALLY need to have more than the main screen. They have to have three specific screens as well: One JUST for guys in conversation, one JUST for guys online right NOW, and one JUST for your favorites. Then you can use the main screen for all if you like at once. Main screen gets too scrambled otherwise.

      Dec 10, 2010 at 8:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      Anyone who uses sites like Grinder are out of their skulls. You are basically giving the company authorization to moniter and track your location in real time on a 24/7 basis………..

      If you don’t think that info is being mined and sold by many companies you need to run down real quick like to the clue store and buy a whole bunch of them because its obvious you don’t possess a single one………..

      Dec 10, 2010 at 10:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve
      Steve

      Hmmm, the “clue store”??? Is that anywhere next to the “paranoia store”?

      Dec 10, 2010 at 10:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sam
      Sam

      If you want a bigger network open the app up to Android already! What’s with the stalling it’s not doing you any favors sticking to iphone.

      Simkhai obviously doesn’t know the tech market or he’d know that the BlackBerry is an outdated technology even the people who make that paper weight don’t like it.

      Can I just what a douche how can you be so dismissive on safer sex

      Dec 10, 2010 at 11:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      @Steve: Yes, silly…… Its in the same shopping center where the “wake up and look up the facts, they are able to track you and maintain a digital record forever where you have been” store is. :p

      Dec 10, 2010 at 11:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nathan
      Nathan [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @Michael: Get over yourself you self-righteous prick, if consenting adults want to do drugs or trade money for sexual favors, what business is it of yours? Keep your nose out of other’s affairs.
      @PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS: Who cares if they have a digital record of where I’ve been? They’ll just use it to target ads at me and sell the information for people wanting demographic information on gays. It’s a fair tradeoff, your outdated notion of privacy is dead.

      Dec 10, 2010 at 3:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justnow
      justnow

      @brandon H:

      I guess they are all getting rejected on Grindr

      Dec 10, 2010 at 9:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve
      Steve

      LOL, you must’ve been watching “A Beautiful Mind” or “Number 23″ lately … or maybe “1984”??

      Dec 11, 2010 at 7:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jacknasty
      jacknasty

      Am I the only one who actually thinks Grindr is dangerous? I mean really it is just a matter of time before somethink terrible happens. A bait and switch where a guy is either gaybashed or robbed or both, a gay panic incident, or a stalking incident. I mean it is the modern age I get that online hook-ups are rutine and of course I’ve done it too, but letting strangers (or ex lovers) be able to track you via GPS is just asking for trouble.

      Dec 11, 2010 at 5:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brentinpdx
      Brentinpdx

      Well, seems that everyone is getting some sort of app like Grindr.. Adam4Adam had released its own version for IPhones and Droids…. some one got smart and married the two together, it’s called Radar

      Dec 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael
      Michael [Different person #2 using similar name]

      Shocked that the article and first post uses the term, ‘breeder’. Seriously how can we ask for respect without giving it.

      Dec 11, 2010 at 10:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Webmaster
      Webmaster

      If they had any real intention of getting more guys on Grindr, the fastest way to do it would have been to release an Android version LONG ago. To me, they have already missed their window of opportunity to do so. They seem to want to keep their walled garden of iPhone only users, and so be it. They will be left in the dust.

      They were the only player in town at one point, and chose not to capitalize on it. Now every tom, dick and harry has a similar app.

      Dec 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      @Nathan: Zuckerberg fancy meeting you here, I didn’t know you were Gay!!!

      Dec 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justnow
      justnow

      @jacknasty: yes and now they want to expand it….

      Dec 16, 2010 at 10:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jacknasty
      jacknasty

      Just a few weeks ago I was at our little neighborhood bar and somebody put in their facebook status that they were at the bar with John, Joe and Kelly. And Kelly happens to have a restraining order against her ex for stalking her at work, and he ended up showing up at the bar because he saw her friend’s facebook status. It was kinda scary.

      Dec 16, 2010 at 1:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      Looks like the secret Android beta has been pirated and is for sale on the SlideMe market! http://slideme.org/en/application/grindr This has gotta be a scam!

      Jan 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Webmaster
      Webmaster [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @John…your link is dead

      Jan 11, 2011 at 2:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John
      John

      Forget Grindr…Scruff really gets it…iPhone & Android! Grindr seems to be in denial that Android even exists! Get Scruff app for Android https://market.android.com/details?id=com.appspot.scruffapp

      Feb 2, 2011 at 7:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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