Despite the freakout, no, Grindr has not been pulled from Apple’s App Store. In fact, today is Grindr’s first birthday, and we’re celebrating a year of guys cruising their neighborhoods from the comfort of their iPhones by chatting with founder Joel Simkhai, who went from selling magazine subscriptions to creating the gay’s must-have app. (Grindr, meanwhile, is celebrating by launching its new BlackBerry app.)
QUEERTY: Did you ever imagine Grindr would grow so fast, so quickly? What’s been the key to its rapid expansion? How did this go viral?
Joel Simkhai: I created Grindr with the hope it would it would be well received and used internationally but I did not expect the personal impact it would have on the lives of so many other guys. Guys approach me continually to say ‘thank you’ and they tell me an amazing success story about how they met some great guys because of Grindr. Many have told me that it has changed their lives in a great way. They have a new ability to connect and interact with the community around them. The unbelievable outpouring of gratitude and appreciation from our users has been immeasurably touching.
Grindr taps into the basic need that almost every average guy has which is to make new relationships with the people right around. It allows them to meet guys who have similar interests, to communicate with friends, and to meet locals when they arrive to an unfamiliar destination.
As for the viral aspect, it has, first and foremost, been the users who have been talking up Grindr and sharing news about the app. Our Grindr guys are global ambassadors who share their success stories. So I’d say most users on Grindr have told their friends, roommates and coworkers – about the app and that’s why we’ve grown so quickly to a community of over 500,000 users in just one year. We’ve also been blessed by coverage in both the gay and mainstream press. Your blog Queerty did an early profile which was a instrumental in the formative early days. My thanks to all Grindr guys and to you.
Today marks our one-year anniversary, and to celebrate with all our users, we are throwing over 50 Grindr Birthday Parties in over 30 cities. Your readers can find a local party by visiting http://grindr.com/year1.
How do you see Grindr in the gay meeting/dating marketplace?
We think Grindr has a unique approach with location at its core. It’s about seeing who is around you, no matter where you are. Guys are jumping on all day long – as they wait for coffee, take a break from the office or make plans for the weekend. We currently have almost 200,000 guys who sign on everyday. On average they check their Grindr seven times a day and spend an hour a day on Grindr.
What’s the most bizarre or otherwise notable story you’ve heard about guys using Grindr?
Every day I’m presented with amazing stories of guys meeting boyfriends and friends through the service. In my own personal experience, I recently met a neighbor in my building who was 1,135 feet away. We met up in the lobby and talked about the building and the area.
I also met a guy who was able to achieve his dream of living in Italy because of Grindr. He applied for a role in an Italian acting troupe and he says he got the role because the director had seen him on Grindr. Grindr created a bond between them and he’s leaving for Italy next week.
Do you know anyone that’s gotten married after meeting on Grindr?
I have not been invited to a wedding…yet. I look forward to the chance to mobilize the Grindr community to help repeal Prop 8 here in California and help enact laws allowing for gay marriage worldwide.
Most folks assume Grindr is just for hooking up. What other ways have you heard about guys using it?
Users can update their personal profiles as often as they wish so I’ve seen guys on Grindr looking for surfing buddies, workout partners and even roommates.
Beyond that, the app isn’t just for guys in the U.S. Just this week we recorded over 550,000 total worldwide users of Grindr and Grindr X(tra) with the U.S, accounting for over one-half of that number. With that in mind, Grindr has broad appeal and a real capacity to create a global sense of connectedness within its community of users.
We hear you know of guys using it in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Are they using the app any differently?
We find that usage of the service all over the world is pretty consistent. Even the profiles and photos are nearly identical regardless of where they are geographically. The faces of Grindr guys around the world are remarkably similar.
So there is a sort of global Grindr guy. Whether in the U.S. or France or the Middle East we find that Grindr guys have very similar interests and are part of one community. In a sense we are all brothers in a larger worldwide community.
Any chance lesbian gals might get their own app soon?
Grindr has a number of exciting new projects in the works and I definitely encourage the ladies to go to Grindr.com and let us know that they are interested in their own app. We’ve realized that the desire to make more meaningful relationships with the people around you is not unique to gay/bi men, it’s a universal desire.
We are constantly thinking of new ways to grow Grindr and expand its reach. For instance today, on our one-year anniversary, we are proud to announce the availability of the beta version of Grindr for BlackBerry app. Guys can go to www.GrindrBerry.com and sign up to beta test the app. It will made available to all BlackBerry users once the beta period is completed. Grindr BlackBerry users will be able to talk to the over half million users that have already joined the Grindr community.
And we’re not stopping by welcoming BlackBerry to the Grindr family. Look for Grindr to be released on additional platforms in the near future as well broadening its reach to answer “What’s around me?” in addition to “Who’s around me?”.
Do you use Grindr yourself? Just for “research purposes”?
I developed Grindr to fill a need in my own life so I have my Grindr on all day. It’s amazing to now see others guys living this same dream of discovering and meeting guys who are in the same room, same building, same block or the same boat.