Behind The Scenes At Gays' Fave Hookup App

Talking with Grindr founder Joel Simkhai

If you're not on Grindr, you're either straight, married, or lying. Since its inception two years ago, Grindr has become the largest all-male social network, over 2 million worldwide users having downloaded the app that shows you who's in the vicinity and whether they look approachable.

You can then call on your animalistic instincts and sprint across the street for some hardcore pouncing (or discussions of the national debt, if you prefer) or just keep walking and waiting for something closer and better.

New York is Grindr's second biggest city (after London), but the whole world seems to be taking to this thing like a lynx in heat, logging back on every time they're mobile.

Rather than try my luck at it, I went for some behind-the-scenes action, interviewing the network's founder/CEO. He's Joel Simkhai, an Israeli-born Tufts grad who launched Grindr on the iPhone, with versions now available for Apple iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices.

And lest you think this is all frivolity-based, Grindr sent messages to its New York users in June, urging them to contact the on-the-fence senators in their nabes and demand that they approve gay marriage. And no, the politicians didn't tweet back with their crotch shots.

Our interview:

Me: Hi, Joel. Tell me how Grindr works. I swear I'm not sure!

Simkhai: You create a profile. You don't have to give your name, your email address, anything. You log on and see a grid of photos of other users in order of distance. On the top left is the closest person to you.

You can go through these photos and start chatting and hopefully meet with someone.

Me: How does it know where every-one is?

Simkhai: They'll log in, they'll show their location to us, and our servers will do the math to figure out the relative distance. We don't share your specific location, but your distance. You'll see that someone is 500 feet away. It could be north, south, east, or west. Then you can talk and give the exact location if you like.

Me: And it's a big hit, right?

Simkhai: We're the largest destination for gay men. We have about 500,000 active daily users. Right now, there are 43,000 gays on Grindr as we speak.

Me: And they're all across the street! What differentiates you from Manhunt?

Simkhai: We don't allow adult photographs in the profiles. And we're about location in real-time—it updates as to where you are. Also, with Manhunt, you're at your house, sitting in front a computer. We're mobile. You're on a bus, you're at Duane Reade....

Me: Or you're on a bus going to Duane Reade. But do some people use Grindr for things other than sex, or will they need Duane Reade for some rash cream?

Simkhai: It runs the gamut. It's really what you make of it. We're a provider of technology.

Me: Do you think most guys that hook up have safe sex?

Simkhai: I don't have a good sense of that. Twenty years ago, HIV was very, very serious. Now it's still serious, but maybe not as serious. So maybe that's changed the mentality, unfortunately. But I think people should always be safe. There's lots of STDs. The risk is simply not worth it.

Me: Do you use your own product?

Simkhai: Always! I'm on it all the time. I've met lots of guys and made some good relationships and dated and had friendships.

Me: So you've hooked up from it?

Simkhai: I've met all kinds of people and have done all kinds of things.

Me: Hmm. Are you looking for a boyfriend?

Simkhai: I don't know. Can one look for a boyfriend?

Me: Absolutely. I've done it my whole life.

Simkhai: I can't say I believe in searching for love, or you'll end up with the wrong situation. Relationships are a lot of work. To make it worth it, you have to find the right person, not force it.

Me: Gosh, you sound so darned grounded. Don't you have a horrible dark side, like the Facebook co-creator?

Simkhai: I don't think so.

Me: Do you like being the guy who links all these people?

Simkhai: That's the best part of the job—essentially being a matchmaker. I meet guys who say, "I met this guy through Grindr, and thank you." That to me is motivating.

Me: And so is all that cash. Do you make more money from advertising or from the Grindr Xtra (premium service) subscriptions?

Simkhai: Half and half. Grindr Xtra is $2.99 a month.

Me: I always joked that I want to start Troll Grindr, which warns you when someone unattractive is across the street.

Simkhai: I think that's part of it. You can see who you want to meet and who you don't want to meet and navigate it. Maybe Troll Grindr should be our next project. [Laughs.]

Me: I want points! Actually, I mentioned that idea to someone and he said, "There already are trolls on Grindr."

[Pause.]

Me: Tell me about your new app, Project Amicus.

Simkhai: It's a geosocial network that will allow gays, straights, everyone to meet the people around you. It goes beyond social orientation, gender, any of that. You can go on Facebook and talk to all the people you already know, but how do you meet new people? We'll hopefully launch this summer.

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18 comments
Noone
Noone

another way to spread AIDS, great

Nikodisias Papalapsuslos
Nikodisias Papalapsuslos

YES , WE CAN...YES , WE CAN...WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive...thank you lord....aaamen).

What do you mean tragedy! It was just a birthday present for planet apes president !!! That's all ! Feels great to flip hamburgers and hip hop atop of good news...makes you feel vibrant and energized !!!

ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" CASH & $$ FLASH MOB (there was no shooting in Utoya or Arizona, but tear gas and theater instead on faces of multiculturalism maniacs..your guilt or blame and shame weapon against us and our families in our own countries atop of forceful unemployment during so called "ECONOMIC CRISES" during which third world foreigners are allowed to rape, kill, and still is nothing else but fast way to early retirements for government related criminals/ terrorists...$$$ extra bonuses, and newly issued state identities while calling you a terrorists) !!! http://stateofterror.blogspot.... or http://stateofterror.wordpress...

OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.c... or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.... Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ...YESSS, WE CAN...YESSS, WE CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (Obaminator’s psychotic speech in Tucson = failed “Apocalypse Now“)

WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET APES !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !!

EVEN IF IRAQ WOULD HAVE BEEN WAR FOR OIL ONLY, VETERANS WOULDN'T NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE HOMELESS PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE AND NOR WOULD OUR PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE ALLOVER THE PLACE THE WAY THEY DO TO VERY TODAY(never ending “war on terror” story). BECAUSE EVEN IF WAR WAS FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY, MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT WHAT THE CASE IS OR AGAINST WHITES(to destroy us allover the world) !!! You don't really proof for 911, just put your sht together in your heads...THIS IS PLENTY ENOUGH TO HAVE O(B)SAMA INDICTED FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE AMERICAN HUMANITY TOGETHER WITH HIS ZIONIST MASTERS) !!!

Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved USA what is lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS as those best of America or Navy Seals would also grew older and then you already know how it goes...DEAD & ILL = DEBT DEAL !!!

HOW MUCH FURTHER ARE WE WILLING TO GO IN ORDER TO PLEASE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO DENY US EVEN THE RIGHT TO EXISTENCE(what is to you country without laws or lawless country in respect to your personal rights, but the one that in contrast to your denied basic human rights recognizes you extremely liable when payments are due) !!?

IS IT INDEPENDENCE THAT WE CELEBRATE OR DEPENDENCE (what are your credit card bills or alimony saying about it) !!? HOW IS YOUR DIABETES AND LOST MARRIAGES !!? FORECLOSURES AND JOB SEARCH !!? THAT IS THE QUESTION TO BE OR NOT TO BE !!! IS IT LAND OF THE FREE OR STATE OF TERROR AGAINST OWN POPULATION !!? IT IS TIME TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT COLOR ARE THE STRIPES ON OUR STAR SPANGLED BANNER !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who wants to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!! IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHOM WE ADDRESS WITH "PRESIDENT" (STOP HUMILIATING YOURSELF) !!!

VOTING POLL:

DO WE NEED MORE PROOFS TO INDICT OBAMA AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY !!?

1)NO, THEY ARE CLEARLY GUILTY AS OIL WAR NEVER EVER WAS REAL ISSUE IN GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES. REAL ISSUE ARE FACTS OR WHAT WE WITNESS TODAY WHEN VETERANS ARE HOMELESS, JOBLESS, KILLED, ETC.

2)NO, AS 911 ALONE AS WELL AS ACTIONS IMPOSED AGAINST WHITES IN USA (as well worldwide) ARE CLEARLY INDICATING ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY

3)YESS AS JUST YESTERDAY(for over 15 years to very yesterday), WE (news/media = vacuum world of lies) WERE TELLING YOU THAT UNEMPLOYMENT WAS AT 10% WHILE TODAY ONE IS AT 50% (HOW COME NO ONE QUESTION JOURNALISM LIKE THIS OR WHAT IS WORLD OF LIES AND DEMENTIA)!

4)I AGREE WITH FIRST TWO ANSWERS ABOVE. IT IS TIME TO PRESS CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BOTH ADMINISTRATIONS DUE TO ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY FOR THE SAKE(SAFETY) OF US AND OUR CHILDREN(DO NOT TURN THEM IN WHITE REFUGEES ON PLANET APES OR WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WHEN VISITING ABOVE PAGES) !!!

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Linlili32

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Feng Ke
Feng Ke

People cannot live without friendship, but it's not esay to get real friendship. It is like a tree. We need to sow the seed of honety, use passion to water it, use principle to cultivate it, and use understanding to take care of it. In this way, the tree of friendship can grow well. ===http://www.finejie.com==== ===http://www.finejie.com===

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Wilito
Wilito

So what gives with the update for the Android Grindr app? The word prediction and spell correction don't work in any landuage. I complained to customer service several times over the past 3 weeks and no response!! I never had these kind of problmes with the IPhone app. Oy vey!!

Feng Ke
Feng Ke

People cannot live without friendship, but it's not esay to get real friendship. It is like a tree. We need to sow the seed of honety, use passion to water it, use principle to cultivate it, and use understanding to take care of it. In this way, the tree of friendship can grow well. ===http://www.finejie.com==== ===http://www.finejie.com===

Jim Sullivan
Jim Sullivan

You're delusional if you think you've going to find a boyfriend through grindr. Come on guys, it's for sex, no? Nothing wrong with that. In Boyfriend 101 I write about "open mind, open heart" not open zipper. It seems the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Victorherbert
Victorherbert

Didn't know you had to get on a bus to get to a Duane Reade.

juliarix
juliarix

If you have been recently diagnosed with STD, you may be upset and confused and think your sexual life is over. However, it's not the end of the world, and it's not the end of your social life. You are not alone! Check STDsingle. com. Many cities in the US and around the world have herpes/HIV/HPV/Hepatitis social and support groups that you can join to meet others who are in the same situation.

Natali
Natali

So it's like 4 Sq for sex?

Love the line about you looking for a bf your whole life.

"You can go on Facebook and talk to all the people you already know, but how do you meet new people? We'll hopefully launch this summer." facebook. You can use it to meet old friends, new friends and really old friends who you haven't talked to in forever so they feel like new friends.

RandiHodges
RandiHodges

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, GrabPenny.com

BinI
BinI

How nice for you.

Kikkums
Kikkums

Thank God Simkhai is not a straight or a closet gay who won't tell you about his sexuality. Thanks for the fun interview.

Almay
Almay

He looks sorta cute. Surprised he hasn't met Mr. Right yet.

Dale
Dale

Didn't you read his views of relationships? He indicated he's not looking, which is typical of gay men who use the Internet for sex or whatever. They adopt a pose of "not looking" or the shotgun effect of "looking for a relationship, but in the meantime....." Fact remains without a definite goal in everything, the results are watered down. He's still young and relatively appealing, so he's got time ...but nothing lasts forever

Anna1199
Anna1199

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, GrabPenny.com

 
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