Interview with Grindr CEO and founder

Gay Cruise in Israel

Find out what CEO and founder of Grindr, Joel Simkhai, has to say about Tel Aviv

Grindr, the popular smartphone application, is already used by more than 1 million users all around the world. As Israel is no exception, we took the time to talk to its CEO and founder. Find out how Joel is connected to Israel and Tel Aviv in this exclusive interview.


 

1. Tell us a bit how it all started, how was Grindr born?

Grindr was launched on March 25, 2009. The idea came about because I started getting frustrated with all the other dating websites and with the idea of “Why is location not a higher priority?” You can search based on zip code, but what about the guy that’s in the same room, building, or across the street? The technology to solve this issue wasn't available. Then the second generation iPhone came out in June 2008. Three major changes were announced — one was GPS, another was the App Store, and the last one was iPhone SDK which was the software language to write these apps in an easy way. These three innovations allowed us to create Grindr.

2. How is it going for you guys nowadays?

It's going very well, we continue to grow and are working hard on developing new features and versions of Grindr. We feel that with Grindr we have created a helpful and easy to use application for gay men to find out the question everyone asks themselves - "who around me is like me"? We receive lots of feedback from our users through our website and at Grindr parties. Many guys say our app has helped them meet new friends while they are traveling, and make new connections at home. Some have even found a boyfriend or met a great new best friend. You can see feedback and stories we receive from our users at Grindr.com/stories.

3. Did you expect the huge popularity of your app?

I hoped that people would find Grindr useful and that it would grow, but I did not expect it grow so quickly in such a short amount of time - we just passed one million users earlier this year. Our users have helped us grow tremendously and we have them to thank for making Grindr so successful. I also never expected it would be used worldwide in 180 countries or that our users would use it so much, with currently about 261,000 users logging on every day.

4. What are your future plans for Grindr?

We currently have several projects in the works based on the feedback we receive from our users at Grindr.com/suggest and through chatting with our users at parties. In future updates, new features will be added to evolve the Grindr experience, and we also want to expand Grindr to other platforms. We are in final stages of beta testing for Grindr for BlackBerry devices - BlackBerry and Android users can sign up at Moregrindr.com to get the latest updates on new developments.

5. A little bird has whispered to us that you are originally from Israel. When did you move to the US, do you still remember the move itself?

Yes, I was born in Tel Aviv and I moved with my family to New York when I was three years old. Since I was pretty young, I don’t really remember the move.

6. What do you remember most about Tel Aviv as a kid?

From my visits to Tel Aviv as a child I remember playing in Park Hayarkon, walking down Dizengoff street and eating shawarma, and of course going to the beach.

7. Are you visiting Tel Aviv every now and then? What do you like most about it today?

I try to visit Tel Aviv at least once a year and was just there a few months ago.  I’m amazed by how much it has progressed in the last 30 years, I remember the days when there was just one channel on the television. There’s great shopping, great weather, great people, and the men are nice to look at too!

8. Big effort is put into making Tel Aviv a preferred gay travel resort for tourist. As someone who lives abroad, can you feel a buzz about the city?

Tel Aviv is now an international modern city, and I always recommend everyone visit there at least once. I’m also impressed at how gay life has progressed, even within the last 10 years. I’m proud that the gay community in Tel Aviv is visible and active, and it’s great that on any given night there are many options of places to go out and socialize.