Gay Gets Better (And More Targeted): Say Hello To The Next Generation Of Grindr

Boys who prefer kissing other boys will be glad to know that Grindr, the location-based hookup app focused on gay men, has today released a huge update with a handful of new features and a brand new look and feel, including an all-new logo.

To date, Grindr has over 7 million downloads worldwide, with over one billion chat messages sent each month and 1 billion photos sent every two months.

This is up from 4 million downloads in June of 2012, with 1 million daily uniques, though founder Joel Simkhai clarifies that between 2.5 and 3 million of those downloads are monthly active users. In terms of conversion rates, Simkhai merely states that “a good percentage” of users upgrade to the Grindr Xtra subscription model, and reminds that Grindr has made its way into the top 15 highest grossing apps in the past five years, number one in social.

“When I look at most of the top 20 highest grossing apps they don’t seem sustainable,” said Simkhai. “They’re mostly games. The fact that we’re there is a testament to what we’ve become to gay men, a basic utility.”

In terms of revenue, 75 percent of Grindr’s income comes from Grindr Xtra, and the other 25 percent comes from Grindr’s advertising business, which is split evenly between ad network-powered ads and in-house ads sold by the sales team.

As a long-time and regular user, Simkhai felt that a huge revamp was in order for the five-year old app, which has remained mostly unchanged over the course of its life.

The update brings with it a number of changes, most notably the introduction of Tribes (a way to categorize yourself beyond just gay). These let users self-identify with various tribes (which include Bear, Clean-cut, Daddy, Discreet, Geek, Jock, Leather, Otter, Poz, Rugged, Trans and Twink).

Grindr is using this form of identity expression to make money. Free Grindr users can only identify with one tribe, whereas Grindr Xtra members can choose up to three.

After years of being able to get away with just giving the user access to gay guys nearby, Simkhai has expressed that users are looking for something more specific than just gay. “Now there are so many guys, people would rather spend their time finding what they’re really looking for,” said Simkhai.

According to the founder, Tribes are more about increasing speed and optimization of the app as a tool rather than facing competition from niche-based apps like Scruff and Recon.

Another notable change is the addition of filters, letting users view a feed based on their own specific interests. These filters include age, height, weight, ethnicity, etc., but regular unpaid Grindr users only have access to three filters at a time. Paid users, on Grindr Xtra, have access to as many filters as they want.

Before this revamp, users were employing the block button (originally conceived as a safety feature) as a filtering tool. Simkhai explains that users have been asking for a filtering tool explicitly and through behavior.

Beyond that, users can include more information in their Profile, like body type, tribe, their “looking for” profile, and links to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The feed itself, past having far more customization thanks to filters, has also been revamped to show larger thumbnails for each potential hookup, and an auto-scroll system. The update also introduces a brand new chat inbox, letting users see all their past messages, delete individual lines of chat, and view chats from favorites.

“Our biggest focus with Grindr is now on speed,” said Simkhai. “There are lot of guys on it now, and they all want it to be faster. So that’s what we’ve done with the next-gen version.”

To check out the new version of Grindr, head on over to the App Store. For Android users, the update should be available soon.