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Earlier this year, the Los Angeles-based startup launched a virtual world within its app called the Kippoverse, which allows users to virtually go on dates and participate in shared experiences. While Kippo started out in 2019 as a dating app catering to gamers, it has since looked to cast a wider net to include people interested in platonically hanging out with friends and meeting new people virtually.
Land you can purchase in Kippo’s metaverse.
Courtesy of Kippo
“We found that the core experience people really love is just hanging out in groups and chatting,” Kippo co-founder and CEO David Park told dot.LA. “We hear people saying they had to go out and buy battery packs because they spend eight hours a day on Kippo.”
Beginning Thursday, Kippo users can purchase 5,000 plots of “land”—non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that give them a presence in the Kippoverse—for 4 SOL each. (SOL, the native cryptocurrency of the Solana blockchain platform, currently trades at more than $31.). Kippoverse landowners can then create in-app experiences like exclusive parties and get-togethers, and can also charge for admission to events that take place on their “land.”
Park compared the platform to Minecraft, the popular sandbox video game where gamers can build things in a virtual 3D world. “Minecraft is probably one of, if not the predecessor to this entire concept of the metaverse,” Park told dot.LA. “The core difference of what we’re building is that most of these platforms are gamer-focused; our core experience is the social aspect.”
There is no limit to how many plots of NFT real estate each Kippo user can purchase. The startup is keeping 500 of its 5,500 plots for itself, so that it can reserve that space for free and “cool” experiences within the app, according to Park. Kippo also plans to partner with different companies, including indie game studios, to create experiences on those plots.
While Kippo is currently only available via its mobile app, Park said the company is in the process of building a web version of its platform. Kippo is also developing an in-app currency that will allow users to more easily transact within the Kippoverse and purchase items to build out their “land.”
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Queer dating app Grindr is planning to go public by merging with a Singapore-based blank-check company in a deal that would value the company at roughly $2.1 billion.
West Hollywood-based Grindr said Monday that it has agreed to merge with Tiga Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Grindr plans to raise at least $384 million from the transaction, with plans to use the funds to pay down debt and further grow its business.
Since launching in 2009, Grindr has grown to around 11 million monthly active users globally, roughly 80% of whom are under 35 years old. The app, which is free to download on iOS and Android devices, has emerged as the queer community’s most popular answer to the Match Group-owned Tinder, which caters primarily to straight singles. Grindr does compete with other queer dating apps including HER, mainly used by lesbian women; Lex, for queer users; and Feeld, an app for polyamorous connections.
Grindr said it generated $147 million in revenue last year, a 30% increase from the year prior. That revenue growth was fueled by an increase in the number of users paying for the app’s premium subscription, which totaled 723,000 at the end of 2021—up 31.5% year-on-year.
Grindr is pursuing a SPAC merger despite a sharp slowdown in SPAC deals amid heightened regulatory scrutiny, as well as a wider stock market correction that has pumped the brakes on IPO deal volume this year. Still, SPAC deals remain a quicker way for companies to list on public markets by side-stepping much of the regulatory red tape around traditional IPOs.
The app recently came under fire after a Wall Street Journal article exposed Grindr’s years-long practice of selling users’ precise location data to the highest bidder—a practice that runs the risk of outing some users’ sexuality and compromising their safety. The company countered the report by claiming it had implemented new privacy policies to prevent the sharing of “precise location” data.