Founder of Blued, China’s largest gay dating app, steps down after delisting in New York with no named successor
- Ma Baoli announced on Monday that he is vacating his roles as CEO and chairman, and hinted at the difficulties of running an LGBTQ platform in China
- As Beijing has increasingly targeted content depicting same-sex relationships in recent years, it has also tightened regulations on social media
The founder of BlueCity Holdings, the operator of China’s largest gay dating app Blued, resigned as chairman and CEO of the company on Monday shortly after the company was privatised and delisted from the Nasdaq this month.
“We have turned ideals into reality and made something impossible possible,” Ma wrote, hinting at the difficulties of running a business catering to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community in a country where gay marriage is not legal and the government has taken an increasingly stringent stance against content depicting same-sex relationships.
“I feel content and unregretful, as I’ve accomplished my mission,” Ma added.
Ma, a former policeman, is also known by his alias Geng Le, which he has used since the early 2000s when he founded one of China’s earliest and most influential online gay forums, Danlan.org. The site wound up becoming the foundation for BlueCity.
With the success of Blued in the smartphone era, BlueCity grew revenue to reach US$107.2 million in 2019, the year before going public on the Nasdaq in July 2020, reaching a valuation of nearly US$800 million.
BlueCity has not announced a successor for Ma, but a company representative said it would “fulfil its obligation to disclose the information in a timely manner”.
The social media firm announced its planned privatisation in April, saying it would be funded by a group comprising Ma and a fund controlled by Hong Kong-listed NewBornTown, a developer of multiple social networking apps targeting overseas markets.
At the completion of the deal, NewBornTown will be the majority shareholder, contributing nearly US$50 million of the US$60 million buyout.
NewBornTown did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.