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Pioneering Gay Dating Site Launches Tinder-Style App

"Every way you want to meet someone, we want to help you."


If Online Buddies CEO Adam Segel has noticed anything in the gay-oriented app market, he said, it’s that there can never be too many dating apps.

“We know from our research that guys don’t use one, they use multiple,” Segel said over coffee in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood. “We find the average is three.”

Why? Because these apps all serve different purposes. Some are flirtier. Some show pictures of faces, some don’t. Some are more like social networks, some are more like hookup apps. Users of Online Buddies often have multiple apps cued up simultaneously — and are using each app for different purposes.

With that in mind, today Online Buddies is launching Dandy, a newly acquired German dating app along the lines of Tinder’s “hot-or-not” swiping style. Dandy joins Online Buddies’ portfolio of companies, including the newish Jack’d and old stalwart Manhunt.

It enters a market already flush with popular gay-targeted apps like Grindr, Scruff and Hornet. But each has its own personality and a place: “Jack’d, you can be a little more anonymous. Dandy, you use your Facebook,” Segel said.

“Jack’d, they hook up on it, I can’t deny it. But it’s way more marriage-focused — white picket fences, talk about meeting their husbands — 68 percent [of users] say they want to get married through the app,” Segel said.

So, what makes Dandy different from the straight-oriented Tinder dating app, which uses the same model?

“The gay aspect,” Segel said. “There’s a little rainbow menu bar on the left. Also, you can find the most-liked guy and force yourself into his matches for 99 cents.”

Grindr and Scruff may have most of the name recognition today, but Online Buddies got there first with a dirty, dirty phone line that eventually evolved into an app. The company’s original dating site, Manhunt, which now has seven million users, started as a “party line” in 2001. People would call in to numbers like 550-TOOL and 550-PIGG where, for about 10 cents a minute, they would find maybe 20 others on the line talking or just breathing. They could “go private” with each other to separate lines. A few years later, Manhunt developed a website.

Gay men were, out of necessity, online dating pioneers, so it’s interesting and important to watch their patterns in the app market.

“Gay guys from my age and over — we never thought we could get married — the bars were painted black on the windows [to protect the anonymity of those inside]. Now it’s so different, and it’s amazing, and it’s what we’ve been fighting for forever,” Segel said. “And what do we do with it? What we’re seeing is, people take traditional hookup apps and use them differently — now they’re friend apps, meet-a-roommate apps and hookup apps.”

“We’re finding people are reaching out to e-meet people on everything — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,” he said. “Every way you want to meet someone, we want to help you.”

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