To most gay men, Grindr is known as the world’s premiere dick pic delivery service. But lately, the company’s executives, programmers, and PR soldiers have been hard at work to shift the app’s image from “hookup helper” to “lifestyle brand.” When I visited the startup’s new Los Angeles headquarters, an 18,000-square-foot workspace located on the 14th floor of the Pacific Design Center Red Building, change was all anyone could talk about. The panoramic view of Los Angeles provided by floor-to-ceiling windows was inescapable. A diverse and attractive staff buzzed throughout the workplace, coding at large computers or lounging on modernist furniture. Morale was high, and conversations hummed with possibility. One thing was certain: This is far more than just the dick pic Death Star. This is the nerve center of a global tech company, and thanks to a recent majority investment by a Chinese gaming company, Beijing Kunlun Tech, it’s one that’s poised for major expansion.
The investment, which was announced in January, put Grindr’s valuation at $155 million. But though Beijing Kunlun has acquired 60 percent of the company, the investor allowed Grindr to keep its current operating team and structure. In short, Grindr has an influx of cash and a significant degree of autonomy to guide plans for global proliferation.