According to a former employee of Grindr, the company’s corporate structure works a lot like the Trump White House.
The news comes from La Magazine. The magazine spoke to several current and former employees for the gay dating app. While the app is run in the U.S., it is owned by Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech. Many of the employees, past and present, expressed a series of concerns such as the replacing of several LGBTQ employees for straight ones, the atmosphere at the office, and worries over private data being shared with the Chinese government.
On that latter concern, the U.S. government expressed concern for the same reason. When Beijing Kunlun Tech expressed interest in selling Grindr’s stocks and taking the app company public, the U.S. government interceded. The U.S. government investigated the tech company to make sure it wasn’t a national security risk. Eventually, the U.S. government chose to support Grindr going public.
But now, Landen Zumwait, Grindr’s former head of communications, says that the company works with an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
“There was this small group of people inside Grindr who wanted to leave, but we were too fearful of what might happen if we did,” Zumwalt said. “I used to balk when I heard that from Trump people, and I still do, but that was a reality I was living with day-to-day.”
He added: “I left because I didn’t want to be their Sarah Sanders anymore.”
Eventually, Zumwait did quit. Zumwait decided to leave the company after INTO, Grindr’s own news source, broke the story about company president Scott Chen. Chen was caught posting on Facebook that his personal definition of marriage is between one man and one woman.
“There are people who believe that marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman. I agree but that’s none of our business,” Chen wrote on his Facebook page last year.
Chen later apologized for his words and reasoned that he believes marriage is a personal matter that reflects each person’s individual perspectives. So while he is pro-gay rights, he personally sees marriage as between a man and a woman.
After INTO’s news site was effectively dissolved post-scandal, Zumwait decided to leave as well.
“As an out and proud gay man madly in love with a man I don’t deserve, I refused to compromise my own values or professional integrity to defend a statement that goes against everything I am and everything I believe.”
But Chen’s words don’t seem to be the only problem with the company. Another employee, who asked to keep his or her identity a secret, complained that the company has been losing LGBTQ employees and replacing them with straight ones.
“Over time, as people have left, they’ve been replaced by straight people,” the employee said. “Today Scott likes to use the phrase: ‘We’re not an LGBT company anymore. We serve LGBT users.’”
Other employees expressed concern with the Chinese government getting access to users’ private information or to private photos shared online. But as MetroWeekly writes, “sensitive images (read: d*** pics) are mostly safe, as they’re stored locally on users’ devices and only temporarily on servers owned by Amazon. Unless the Chinese government demanded access to those servers, it can’t see users’ photos.”
Certainly, there will always be concerning info floating around Grindr. But now, there’s concerning info coming from within the company too. When there’s smoke….