Connect with us

Business

LA’s comeback, a lesbian community leader has a starring role

There’s a sense of relief and excitement as LA starts to reopen

Published

on

Madonna Cacciatore, (driving) and spouse Robin McWilliams in the new Discover LA advert

LOS ANGELES – Nearly thirteen long months have passed since the coronavirus pandemic first gripped the greater Los Angeles region as well as the rest of the Golden State.

However, now with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reporting that its Health Metrics data continues to reflect reduced transmission of COVID-19 in the County and test positivity remains at the lowest levels of the pandemic- coupled with 53% of the population getting vaccinated, there’s a sense of relief and excitement as LA starts to reopen.

Having a role in that reopening literally is Madonna Cacciatore and her spouse Robin McWilliams who are part of an ensemble cast in the recently released Discover Los Angeles dot com television commercial celebrating the sights, sounds, places, and destinations in LA.

Cacciatore, a transplant from the Lone Star State of Texas, in addition to being an actor is also Vice President of the Board of Directors at L-Project Los Angeles, the former Executive Director at Christopher Street West/LA Pride, and the former Director of Special Events at Los Angeles LGBT Center.

McWilliams is the owner and CEO of MadCatch Entertainment, a management company representing some of the most amazing theatrically trained actors, singers and writers in the Los Angeles, and NY area.

WATCH:

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Business

Grindr goes public with new gay CEO & majority LGBTQ+ board

Arison’s appointment to helm Grindr comes as the app has assumed a more active role in fighting the monkeypox virus (MPV) outbreak

Published

on

Grindr's new CEO, George Arison (Los Angeles Blade graphic)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Grindr, the dating and hookup app that boasts about 11 million gay, bisexual, transgender and queer users per month around the world, is preparing to go public this fall with a $2.1 billion valuation. 

Ahead of its merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), the company formed a board comprised of 60% LGBTQ+ members and on Tuesday installed, as its new CEO, George Arison, the openly gay founder and former CEO of Shift Technologies.

The move marks the company’s second attempt at going public, after hopes for an initial public offering (IPO) were dashed in 2016, when Chinese company Beijing Kunlun Tech divested its shares of Grindr over concerns by the U.S. government regarding the potential for blackmail or espionage by the Chinese Communist Party. 

Arison’s appointment to helm Grindr comes as the app has assumed a more active role in fighting the monkeypox virus (MPV) outbreak, which has overwhelmingly affected gay and bisexual men who have sex with men. 

The news also arrives on the heels of controversy stemming from Facebook posts published by former Grindr CEO Scott Chen: “Some think marriage is between a man and a woman. I think so, too, but it’s a personal matter,” he wrote. “Some people think the purpose of marriage is to have your own biological children. It’s a personal matter, too.”

Some may have foreseen the change in leadership from the negative reactions to Chen’s comments at the time from other CEOs of LGBTQ+ dating apps – CEOs who, unlike Chen, were members of the communities they served. 

LGBTQ+ people serve as CEOs of some of the most powerful companies in the world. Tim Cook, for instance, has led Apple since 2011, and the tech giant now has the largest market cap at $2.4 trillion. 

NASDAQ listed companies with one or more LGBTQ+ board members, meanwhile, include Apple, Google, Papa John’s, and M&T Bank. 

It is unusual, however, for a publicly traded corporation to be led by an LGBTQ+ CEO and majority-LGBTQ+ board of directors, as will be the case for Grindr if the acquisition is successful. 

According to a press release from Grindr, LGBTQ+ identifying members of the company’s board are: “former United States Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Daniel Baer; senior partner at Simpson Thacher, Gary Horowitz; CMO of Hootsuite, Maggie Lower; Investor and Tech Executive, Nathan Richardson; and SVP of Marketing and Communications at BigCommerce, Meghan Stabler.”

They, along with Arison and Grindr’s VP/Global Head of Communications, Patrick Lenihan, either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

“Grindr is an unbelievable business and I am beyond excited to help them navigate through this next part of their journey. Their hard work and a laser focus on delivering great products to a starkly underserved market are inspiring, and deliver incredibly strong business results,” Arison said in a statement that accompanied the company’s announcement of his appointment as CEO.

Since it was launched in 2009, Grindr has faced criticism over its potential use for sexual exploitation, racism on the app, and concerns about its impact on mental health. A few years ago, the company was found to be sharing users’ HIV statuses and locations to outside vendors. 

Grindr sought to combat racism and other forms of discrimination with its Kindr initiative, introduced in 2018. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” the company wrote. “Their type. Their tastes. But nobody is entitled to tear someone else down because of their race, size, gender, HIV status, age, or – quite simply – being who they are.”

Revamping its help center, community guidelines, and safety tips, Grindr has also worked to fight the sexual exploitation of minors and mitigate instances of bullying on the app.

A CEO who has a record of prioritizing diversity 

As CEO of Shift Technologies, an online marketplace for buying and selling used cars, Arison prioritized diversity when taking his company public and choosing members of its board. It was important for Arison, himself an immigrant from the Eastern European country of Georgia, because data shows companies do better with women serving on their boards. And more to the point, considering his leadership at Grindr, he wanted Shift to “represent all the people [the company] caters to.”

Three of Shift’s eight board members were women, as of the company’s successful IPO via acquisition by a SPAC in 2020.  “We’ve done our best to include men and women, straight and gay as well as immigrants and people of different ethnicities, heritages and races on our board,” Arison told Market Watch. 

It is not just Arison who is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion when it comes to Grindr’s forthcoming debut as a public company. Grindr will “continue to expand the ways it serves the LGBTQ+ community, from products, services to the philanthropic and advocacy work done through Grindr 4 Equality [G4E],” said Jeff Bonforte, the company’s outgoing CEO, who will serve on the board. 

The company’s press release describes G4E as a program that leverages “the Grindr app’s global reach and leadership to empower local LGBTQ+ activists, spread information, and empower our users in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights… Through G4E, we work with various groups worldwide to make HIV testing more accessible, encourage voting, and fight homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia.”

Former hedge fund manager and Grindr board member G. Raymond Zage said, in the company’s press release, “We are excited to bring this diverse and thoughtful board together with the talented Grindr team to grow the business and deepen its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community,” which he noted has traditionally been underserved. 

“On behalf of my community, I can’t wait to work with this board and the impressive folks at Grindr to show up for even more LGBTQ+ people,” Lower said.

Continue Reading

Business

West Hollywood-based Grindr LGBTQ+ dating app goes public

“Grindr is well positioned to be a public company and will continue to expand the ways it serves the LGBTQ+ community”

Published

on

Los Angeles Blade graphic

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The LGBTQ+ mobile phone dating app Grindr announced in a statement that it had merged with a special purpose acquisition company on Monday. The merger agreement gives the 13-year-old dating app company the ability to help pay off and satisfy debt as well as fund future growth.

The merger with Tiga Acquisition Corp. is a deal that values the combined company at $2.1 billion. The acquisition company will raise $384 million in cash proceeds, which will consist of $284 million of TAC’s cash in trust plus up to $100 million in a forward purchase agreement.

Grindr, founded in 2009, is a widely popular dating app in the LGBTQ+ community, attracting 10.8 million monthly users in 2021, with 80 percent of its users being under the age of 35, according to the statement. 

“Grindr is the leading platform focused on the LGBTQ+ community for digital connection and engagement. We have a near ubiquitous global brand in the community we serve, impressive scale, best-in-class user engagement metrics and adjusted EBITDA margin, and we’re still just beginning our monetization and growth journey,” said Jeff Bonforte, Chief Executive Officer of Grindr.

“Grindr is well positioned to be a public company and will continue to expand the ways it serves the LGBTQ+ community, from products, services to the philanthropic and advocacy work done through Grindr 4 Equality,” he added.

James F. Lu, Chair of Grindr’s Board of Directors, said, “Bringing Grindr to the public markets with TAC furthers our mission to connect the LGBTQ+ community. This transaction is a milestone event, not only for our iconic company, our people, partners, and investors, but also for the community we serve around the world. We are grateful for the resilience, courage, and creativity that are some of the LGBTQ+ community’s unifying characteristics. Lastly, we are thrilled to work with Ray Zage and Ashish Gupta and the entire TAC team, and appreciate their confidence and support in this important journey.”

There have been some issues globally as the Hill reported: Chinese officials removed the dating app rom its Apple App Store in February, citing compliance issues with China’s Personal Information Protection Law. 

The Personal Information Protection Law, which took effect at the end of 2021, requires that data stored in applications that is transferred to other locations be approved by government officials. The law also limits the personal information stored in apps. 

The popular app also was removed from app market services from Chinese companies such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Huawei Technologies Co. Alphabet Inc.’s Google Play Store is unavailable in China. 

Continue Reading

Business

Equator Coffees opening its first-ever Southern California café

*10% of Equator’s Ivy Station opening week sales will be donated to the
Los Angeles LGBT Center*

Published

on

Equator Coffees at Ivy Station Culver City (Photo Credit: Wonho Pho)

LOS ANGELES – Equator Coffees, the sustainable B Corp coffee roasting company known for boutique chef blends and Fair Trade organic coffees, is opening its first-ever Southern California cafe in Culver City at Ivy Station on March 4, 2022.

Founded by partners Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, the company has been craft roasting in the Bay Area for over 25 years. Equator Coffees’ newest location in their collection of bustling cafes marks the company’s first-ever cafe in Southern California.

The 1400 square feet, 50+ seat indoor-outdoor cafe joins Equator Coffees’ ten beloved Northern California outposts. Equator Coffees’ focus on quality, sustainability and social responsibility makes it poised to be a welcome addition to the Los Angeles area, and the thriving and culturally vibrant community of Culver City. 

To celebrate Equator Coffees’ arrival in Southern California 10% of the Ivy Station cafe’s opening week sales will be donated to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which provides health, housing, education and social services to thousands of LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Additionally, February 16th – March 2nd the cafe will offer the “Finca Sophia Flight”; a two-cup flight of award-winning Panamanian Gesha coffees from Equator’s own Finca Sophia Coffee Farm, available exclusively at Equator Coffees’ Culver City location.

“Making people’s lives better through coffee informs every connection we make, from farmer to roaster to the barista preparing your cup, and to consumers and the communities that our cafes inhabit” says Helen Russell, Co-founder of Equator Coffees. “We are excited to join the burgeoning community of Culver City, and to have the opportunity to offer families, professionals, and visitors alike, delicious coffees from around the world with distinct flavor profiles that are ethically sourced.” 

Equator’s brewed coffee and specialty drinks are truly special, and the Culver City cafe will offer their seasonal single origin pour over program, a choice between the house Tigerwalk espresso blend and a rotating seasonal single origin espresso, a delightful menu of specialty espresso beverages such as shakeratos and the Habibi latte, as well as a full selection of whole bean coffee, including their #1 seller and devotee-favorite, the full-bodied Equator Blend, and the Washed Gesha and Natural Gesha coffees from Panama’s Finca Sophia Coffee Farm

Building upon their long standing relationship with the culinary community, Equator will partner with celebrated LA chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken on the Socalo Spiced Latte, a signature cafe de olla-inspired latte with piloncillo, cinnamon, and star anise, and Guava Empanadas, as well as new coffee collaboration – ‘Mary Sue and Susan’s SOCALO Las Rosas, Colombia’ – a medium roast produced by the Las Rosas Women’s Coffee Project of West Hulia, Colombia; all available at the new Culver City cafe. The all-day menu, bearing a SoCal twist,  will offer pastries from Farmshop Market in Santa Monica and artisanal breads from Bub & Grandmas’. 

 EQUATOR COFFEES OPENS CAFE IN LOS ANGELES

Ivy Station, Culver City Outpost Is Brand’s 

First Southern California Location 

Opening March 4, 2022

*10% of Equator’s Ivy Station opening week sales will be donated to the
Los Angeles LGBT Center*

Equator Coffees collaborated with Kellie Patry Design to create a cafe inspired by the California topography and the metro line which runs parallel to the Ivy Station location and seamlessly flows into the building’s adjacent public greenspace. The streamlined interior is imbued with color,  futurism, and playfulness, and the design connects the interior and patio with curving white oak benches, offering a subtle homage to metro design. The cafe features details like a tile mural by Thomas Williams mimicking ocean waves, and Louis Poulsen’s pendants wash light over the dining room. On designing the new cafe, Patry reflects: “Forward-thinking, Helen and Brooke’s journey along the Equator is at the core of my inspiration. Equator Coffees is a tireless savvy welcoming company led by equally stirring women. I think of the cafe as Flapper Chrome morphed into Espresso Futurism, at a metro stop in Culver City.”

Equator Coffees’ Culver City location will feature Ground Control ‘Cyclops’ brewers, allowing for Equator’s renowned coffees to shine. This cutting edge coffee brewer creates a layered brew via a multiple extraction, full immersion brewing process. Brewing coffee through the eyes of chemistry is a hallmark of Equator’s philosophy, which is driven home by the Ivy Station cafe’s addition of the La Marzocco KB90 espresso machine; a uniquely precise piece of brewing equipment that is designed to eliminate physical stress, allowing baristas an empowering working environment where they can dial in the most delectable drinks imaginable.

Equator Coffees Culver City is located at 8900 Venice Blvd #105, Los Angeles, CA 90232 and will be open from 7:30am-3:30pm daily. For more info, visit here and follow along @equatorcoffees

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Advertisement

Popular