Hornet, a dating app that touts itself as “the world’s second largest gay social network,” announced that it has raised $8 million in its first round of institutional financing. The Series A round was led by Shanghai-based VC firm Ventech China, and adds to the $500,000 angel round Hornet raised back in 2012.
Founded out of San Francisco in 2011, Hornet serves to “strengthen” the gay community by “providing quality social interactions with more ways to meet and engage in local gay communities,” the company says. It recently made its first acquisition, snapping up gay city guide Vespa for an undisclosed amount, with Vespa’s places and events data integrated into Hornet in a major refresh earlier this month.
Vespa says that it’s now the top gay social network in some markets, including Russia, Brazil, France, and Taiwan, with three million active users each month across the board, or half of what Grindr counts. Indeed, Grindr is among the best-known gay online communities, and earlier this year it too nabbed its first ever institutional funding, closing a $93 million round after nearly seven years of bootstrapping. Similar to Hornet, Grindr’s investment also emanated from China, with gaming giant Beijing Kunlun Tech Company buying a 60 percent stake in the company, valuing it at around $155 million.
Hornet says that its cash influx will be used to “support rapid business growth and user adoption” around the world.
“We are excited to work with our new investors to further our mission and engage our community,” explained Christof Wittig, Hornet CEO, in a press release. “Hornet brings interaction and an experience that builds relationships and helps form meaningful connections to local communities. We will invest heavily into making our vision for a fully connected gay community a reality.”
Ventech China has invested in at least one other gay community app — it participated in the Series C round of China’s Blued in June this year. Blued is big in Asia, and has claimed to be twice as big as Grindr.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to invest in Hornet,” added Eric Huet, a managing partner at Ventech who also now joins Hornet’s board of directors. “The platform combined with the user functionality is unparalleled. In such a short time, Hornet has a claimed leader position in many markets across the globe.”