Beijing-based gay dating app, Blued, raised $100 million in a Series D funding round led by Hong-Kong based CDH Investments. According to reports, it is the largest gay social network in the world. The company will reportedly direct the funds toward product optimization and platform diversification.
Launched in 2012, Blued started off as the Grindr copycat of China. The app allows its users to connect, chat, send voice messages, and share live streams. It boasts 27 million users globally on its website. According to Technode, the platform had already supported 13 languages and set up offices around Southeast Asia and in the U.K.
In February 2014, the startup raised $1.6 million in a Series A by Zhonglu Capital and Crystal Stream Capital. That round was followed by a $31 million Series B in November 2014 by California-based DCM Ventures and Beijing-based Shunwei capital, reportedly raising the company’s valuation to $300 million. In 2016 it raised an unknown amount in a Series C by China-based firms Vision Knight Capital and Ventech China, which also invested in San Francisco-based gay social networking app Hornet Networks.
Though support for the LGBTQ community has grown in many places around the world, including Taiwan, which legalized gay marriage last year, the company’s expansion has not been without challenges. According to Vice, Blued and other LGBTQ dating apps have faced significant backlash in Indonesia, where the police have increasingly targeted the community.
Blued was founded by Ma Baoli (Geng Le), a gay man from Hebei province. According to Forbes, Ma was forced to quit his job as a police officer in 2012. It was revealed that he was moderating Danlan.com, the most popular online gay discussion forum in China. Ma then went on to co-found Blue City Holdings, Blued’s parent association, which aims to provide online and offline services to the LGBTQ community.