On the premise that a smartphone could vastly improve his love life, Joel Simkhai built one of the most popular dating apps in the world. In 2008 he was living in LA and looking for an easy way to meet other gay men. He saw the early potential of the GPS-enabled iPhone, and a year later, launched Grindr: an app where users could determine if a potential date – or a quick hookup – was down the block or ten miles away. With no background in coding or app design, Joel bootstrapped Grindr into a global phenomenon –all the while dealing with technical meltdowns, safety issues, and criticism about toxicity on the app. Grindr was eventually sold, and Joel moved on; but last year launched another queer hookup app “for today” – called Motto.
This episode was produced by Casey Herman, with music by Ramtin Arablouei.
Edited by Neva Grant, with research help from Katherine Sypher.