Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. is seeking to sell its popular gay dating app Grindr. Why? U.S. national security concerns.

Kunlun is being pressured to sell by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an American intergovernment agency that reviews acquisitions of U.S.-based companies by foreign firms, according to Reuters. Kunlun paid $93 million for a majority stake of the West Hollywood, California-based company in 2016, and $152 million for the app's remaining shares in 2018.

The national security risk comes from personal data safety concerns involving U.S. military and intelligence personnel who use the app. Grindr collects plenty of personal data from its users--27 million of them worldwide, as of 2017--including locations and messages, and came under fire last year for sharing user HIV status data with third parties.

Grindr had been preparing for an initial public offering, a move previously announced in August. Now, Kunlun will try to sell Grindr outright.

Joel Simkhai, the app's founder, told Inc. in 2014 that he would only sell Grindr "if the right deal came by at the right time, with the right partner, maybe." Simkhai stepped down as Grindr's CEO when the app was fully acquired in 2018. His statement at the time did not indicate any planned next moves.

Published on: Mar 28, 2019