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Grindr makes a statement with majority-LGBTQ board

May 27, 2022, 12:24 PM UTC

Grindr’s announcement that it plans to go public in a $2.1 billion SPAC deal grabbed headlines earlier this month. But little has been said of the formation of its board, which boasts 60% LGBTQ representation and four first-time public directors.

The gay dating app’s executive rank is a prime example of a 21st century modern board not just in terms of diverse representation but also the unique medley of professional backgrounds and skills held by directors. The six new board appointees include an active tech CEO whose company recently went public, the CMO of Hootsuite, a former U.S. diplomat, and an e-commerce company’s marketing and communications head. Another is a senior partner at a law firm who specializes in mergers and acquisitions.

Grindr hired the executive search firm Audeliss, which specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion, to bring this group together. Suki Sandhu, Audeliss’s founder and CEO, notes that in addition to looking for a board that represents the company’s user base, Grindr also needed candidates who were aligned with its post-IPO strategies around government affairs, international expansion, product marketing, and scaling tech companies.

“[Grindr leaders] put their money where their mouth is by hiring these independent board directors that reflect the community. I think what they’re also showing is that this executive talent does exist, and they should be hired,” Sandhu tells Fortune. “Whether it’s an LGBTQ business or not.”

The disclosure of LGBTQ status on boards is on the rise, according to recent data from The Conference Board, analyzing Russell 3000 companies. About 6.6% of S&P 500 companies and 3.5% of Russell 3000 companies disclosed their directors’ sexual orientation in 2021. That jumped to 22.7% in the S&P 500 and 25.4% in the Russell 3000 as of April 2022. 

While Grindr has obvious reasons for wanting to prioritize LGBTQ board candidates, this was not diversity for diversity’s sake. Gary Horowitz, the senior legal partner on Grindr’s board, oversaw the IPO of Bumble, another dating app, while George Arison, CEO of Shift, took his company public via SPAC, just like Grindr, in 2020. 

“I’ve gone through the exact journey that the company is going to go through,” Arison says, adding that he anticipates leveraging his skills around board operations, building a management team, and communicating with investors for the soon-to-be public company.

For Grindr’s new board members, serving as a director is not just about representation either. They see a promising business.

“I have a very complete full-time job that I love,” Maggie Lower, CMO of Hootsuite, says. “For this opportunity, I wanted to make the space to be on the board because it isn’t just an LGBT community platform. It’s a strong thriving business.”

Grindr reports that it had 10.8 million monthly active users and grew paying users by 31% to over 700,000 in 2021. That same year, revenue grew 30% and had a 53% adjusted EBITDA margin, with sales and marketing spend making up less than 1% of revenue.

“It’s growing quickly and it makes money, but there’s there’s still a lot more opportunity to expand and be relevant to even more members of the LGBT community, particularly the lesbian community,” Lower says. 

It’s worth noting that Grindr’s longer-serving board members, including chairman James Lu, were not as representative of Grindr’s client base. However, Sandhu says the company put in extra effort to source an expansive slate of candidates. “The hardest part was whittling the list down,” he says.

“I was really impressed by the commitment of our primary investors to having LGBT representation,” Lower adds. “They all intrinsically understand that having representation is only going to make Grindr better.”

Aman Kidwai
aman.kidwai@fortune.com

Headlines

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Dorsey accused of backstabbing. Former Twitter director and vice president of product Jason Goldman said co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey encouraged Elon Musk to buy his company and take it private. Goldman called it “a clear backstabbing of the board by the founder when they had a deal in hand to come to a standstill.” Dorsey, who recently left the company’s board, has been publicly supportive of Musk’s Twitter takeoever. And although the deal remains in limbo, Musk recently increased his personal financial commitment to the deal. Fortune

VMWare acquisition. In what would be one of the largest tech acquisitions ever, Broadcom announced an agreement to acquire cloud software company VMWare through a $61 billion cash-and-stock transaction. The Trump administration previously blocked Broadcom’s acquisition attempt of Qualcomm in 2018. While VMWare and hardware manufacturer Broadcom are in different industries, one analyst told TechCrunch that VMWare could add stability and profitability to the portfolio, and that he expects Broadcom “to leave VMware in peace as [previous owner] Dell did so long as the company delivers.” Still, the acquisition may not pass the scrutiny of today’s FTC. TechCrunch

Inclusive internship ideas. With summer approaching, and companies looking to attract and retain diverse, high-potential talent, businesses must offer more than just an hourly wage to interns, according to Julia Freeland Fisher, director of education research at the Clayton Christensen Institute. Fisher says “social capital remains the other key currency for getting ahead,” and that employers can deliver better outcomes and experiences for interns by removing barriers to making connections. She suggests that companies offer interns a support group of mentors, “pre-onboarding” and post-internship communication, as well as a meal stipend so they can afford to network informally at lunch spots and happy hours where workplace friendships are often forged. HBR

BOARD MOVEMENT

Entrepreneur Peter Thiel has officially left the board of Meta after joining it as one of the company’s earliest investors in 2005. David Kamenetzky, former member of the four-person Group Executive Committee at Anheuser-Busch InBev, has joined the board of Bark, Inc., a publicly-traded pet services company. Barbara Mair, a partner at Smart Force and longtime tech entrepreneur, was elected to the board of Laureate Education, where she will serve on the board’s audit and education committees. Sprouts, the specialty grocery chain, has added Clif Bar chief financial and strategic officer Hari Avula, a former Walgreens and Pepsi executive, to its board. Barbara Gutierrez, chief financial officer of InnovAge Holding Corp., was appointed to the board of LogicMark, where she will serve as audit chair. Quotient Technology has appointed Kimberly Anstett, former CTO at Iron Mountain and former CIO at Nielsen, to its board. Stephen Stokols, CEO of Boost Mobile, is joining the board of BuildOps, a VC-backed real estate management software. Gary Warzala, former chief information security officer at Fifth Third Bank, PNC Bank, and Visa International, was elected to the board of First Financial Bancorp. 

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