Chinese gay dating app Blued eyes Nasdaq IPO to expand overseas – TechCrunch
About 20 years ago, Baoli Ma hid in his bedroom, feeling helpless and lonely to be a gay man in China.
Life has changed dramatically for Ma since then. This week, BlueCity, the gay dating and lifestyle platform he created, filed for an initial public listing on the Nasdaq.
“For me, this is where the power of the internet lies – it allows us to uplift ourselves and bring warmth to others all over the world who live in loneliness, helplessness and fear due to their sexual orientation, ”wrote Ma, managing director. of the company, in the prospectus.
The company said it aims to raise $ 50 million during the IPO, while it has not determined its offering price for each US depositary share (ADS). The proceeds from the public offering will go towards investing in new technologies as well as expanding into national and international markets, which currently account for around half of its monthly users.
Ma, a former locked-up police officer, founded the LGBTQ-focused Danlan.org online forum in 2000. In 2011, he quit his job to start Blued, the gay dating app under parent company BlueCity.
At first, Blued was widely seen as an impersonator of Grindr – a California startup that was purchased by a Chinese company before it was forced to break ties on security issues. Blued has since designed many features to set itself apart. Designed for users to chat and live stream, the app is primarily used by gay men, although it does include services for the LGBTQ population at large. To that end, he entered into a letter of intent in June for a potential capital investment to acquire a Chinese lesbian dating app.
As of March, Blued had 6 million monthly active users and 49 million registered users. It has attracted a loyal following in overseas markets like India, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
The majority of Blued’s revenue comes from selling virtual items during the live broadcast, which accounted for 88.5% of its total revenue of $ 107 million in 2019. Other monetization streams included advertising and subscriptions which offered users premium features in the app.
The company has started exploring health services for the LGBTQ community in recent years, offering everything from HIV counseling to connecting clients with surrogate mothers abroad.
Some of the business risks cited by BlueCity were government policies and negative public sentiment towards the queer community in different regions. In early 2018, the Indonesian government asked the Google Play Store to block Blued alongside dozens of other apps in the same category. It is also crucial to ensure the safety of users. In 2019, Blued briefly had to freeze recording after being convicted of failing to apply age verification, exposing underage users to sexual exploitation.
While China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from the list of mental illnesses in 2001, public discourse about the community remains heavy. Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging service, sparked an uproar among the queer community and many Chinese citizens when it announced the ban on content related to homosexuality. The company later reversed decision.