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In an article published by the Daily Beast on Thursday, London Editor Nico Hines attempted to provide readers with an inside look at the hookup culture inside Rio's Olympic village, where many athletes reside during the Games. The article has since been edited, but the original version provided potentially identifying information about some of the athletes he "matched" with -- including Olympians he met on gay male hookup site Grindr. For many closeted athletes the internet may be the one place where they are able connect with LGBT culture and community safely," Taylor added. The Editor's Note on the current version of Hines' article states "a number of readers complained" about the original piece, and the note acknowledges the safety concerns.
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This place exists. Maybe you are one of the more than , people on the waiting list? Raya first appeared several years ago as a dating app aimed at people in creative industries. It has expanded into an invitation-only social network populated by movie stars, fashion designers, pro athletes, tech executives and too many Instagram models to count.
About 8 percent of applicants are accepted, making Raya a slightly harder nut to crack than Harvard Business School. Inside, the rules are simple: Users who take screen shots receive a stern pop-up message, and disclosing information about other members is strongly discouraged. Well, yeah. But Raya is filling a market niche. At a time when open tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter are struggling to rebuild user trust after a flurry of scandals, Raya stands out as an example of a social network that is succeeding by emphasizing exclusivity over scale, and turning privacy into a selling point.
There are other elite dating apps, such as the League, which reportedly has , active users. But Raya may be the first app that has successfully created an atmosphere of intimacy and trust while revealing almost nothing about itself. Its website contains no mention of investors, founders or staff members, and the company has never spoken about its origins. For years, members have speculated about who was behind it. A Hollywood superagent? A lonely tech billionaire?
Daniel Gendelman, 34, is handsome and thinly bearded. He wore a white T-shirt and ordered plain oatmeal when I met him recently in a Venice Beach restaurant. In , he was staying in Israel, recovering from the failure of his previous start-up, a social discovery app called Yello. And he was striking out on Tinder. Celebrities avoided it out of embarrassment. Instead, Mr. Gendelman thought, what if there were an app that felt more like a dinner party — an intimate, thoroughly vetted collection of interesting people having candid conversations?
He put together a small team and began to build. He called the app Raya, after the Hebrew word for friend, and seeded it with a group of his friends in Los Angeles. Gendelman said. Among actual Raya members, reviews are mixed. A friend confessed that she loved it and had used it to score several dates, including one with a Grammy-winning musician. On other dating apps, Mr.
Telle said, women often accused him of being an impostor using fake photos to get dates. Their suspicion may have stemmed from his eight-pack abs and frankly ridiculous jaw line. He did not have that problem on Raya, where everyone has eight-pack abs and ridiculous jaw lines. Telle, who is now dating someone and has stopped actively using Raya. Gendelman, a self-described introvert, has chosen to stay quiet. For years, he avoided publicly identifying himself, even hiding his job from some friends and family.
He has kept the company small — Raya has just 13 full-time employees — and has raised only a few small investment rounds. But slowly, Raya is beginning to step out. It introduced a real-time map feature that allows users to opt in to sharing their locations with other members. Come for the models, stay for the deals. Gendelman would not share financial information but said that he expects Raya to become profitable this year.
Ultimately, though, Mr. Instead, his vision is to see Raya become a kind of digital Davos, a meeting place for influential people to concoct all kinds of commercial, artistic and humanitarian projects. The heart of Raya is its screening process, which is overseen by a secret committee of about trusted members who vote on every application. Gendelman said that Raya has more than 10, members spread across dozens of countries.
Having a big Instagram following is not a prerequisite for being admitted. Neither must you be ridiculously attractive, or have lots of money. Gendelman said instead that conspicuous displays of wealth are a red flag. I asked Mr. Gendelman to show me some Raya applications. First in the queue was a male fashion photographer. He is in his early 30s, good-looking, seemingly well known in his field.
Next up was a musician, a young guy with ratty blond hair. A Google search turned up some recent high-profile media hits for his band. The musician also got a yes. Friend passes will make Raya more democratic, Mr. Gendelman said, a point that is directionally if not factually correct. So, yes, Raya is less superficial than its reputation would suggest.
But surely Mr. Gendelman would admit that attractiveness and social capital play some role in its criteria for admission. Consider, I said, my nonexistent Uncle Tony — a hypothetical terrible-looking old man with no public profile and no Instagram following to speak of. Is he passionate? After we met, Mr. He made me promise not to name any members I met there, a condition I accepted on the grounds that many of the famous ones have already been outed.
After agreeing to abide by the rules, I opened the app and created my profile using a few carefully chosen photos and an Imagine Dragons song I pulled randomly from iTunes. Raya uses full-screen slide shows set to music, in lieu of static profile photos. Within the first day of use, I spotted an A-list musician, several TV news anchors, a household-name comedian, two N.
Everyone was either very attractive or the kind of person to whom very attractive people would be drawn. There is something thrilling, and a little embarrassing, about this rarefied air. I spent several weeks glued to Raya, looking for as many familiar faces as possible. But, oddly, it did make me nostalgic for an earlier, more Balkanized era of communication. Then social media companies came along, broke up the clubs and forced all the gamers and sports fans and Instant Pot moms and neo-Nazis onto the same three apps, then acted surprised when nobody got along.
The popular and beautiful have always had private parties, invite-only conferences and V. Why would the internet be any different? Whether or not Raya fulfills its utopian ambitions, it is at least dangling the possibility that not all digital products have to connect the entire world — that the internet may still allow for some secrets.
On Raya, Ms. Gendelman shook his head. A version of this article appears in print on , on Page ST1 of the New York edition with the headline: Elites, Meet Your Match. Open in the app.
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In what can only be explained as a bad attempt at getting attention, Daily Beast writer Nico Hines headed down to the Oympics in Rio and downloaded some dating apps. Even though he downloaded the whole gamut, the writer really only focused on Grindr , a dating app for gay men, in his article.
Gay dating app crashes as Olympic athletes arrive
The story's removal from the site Thursday night came hours after the editor-in-chief for the publication apologized for the article, which was first revised before being taken down completely. The story talked about how athletes use dating apps such as Bumble, Grindr, Jack'd, and Tinder to connect with people at the games. A reporter for the site said in the story that he got three dates in his first hour of trying and also detailed what some men wrote on their profiles on Grindr, a popular gay dating app. Readers and social media users quickly voiced concern that the details in the original version of the story could not only out gay athletes, but also potentially threaten their safety. Those concerns, Daily Beast editor-in-chief John Avlon wrote in issuing the first apology, were legitimate. But there was a concern that even mentioning the home nation of some gay athletes could compromise their safety.
No, Olympic Athletes Didn't Crash Grindr
Yes, the Olympics athletes are all arriving in London. And, yes, Grindr crashed. But sadly, correlation does not imply causation. Did you hear? Lots of athletes are arriving in London! And many of them are gay! And Grindr, the app that facilitates gay hook-ups, crashed! A gay dating website crashed within minutes of the first Olympic athletes arriving in London - due to the volume of demand, say experts.
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From Raya to Tinder Select: the world of elite dating apps
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Guest Contributor. At that time, online dating was the primary option for gay men to meet other gay men. There may be more options available now, but I still find it to be my go-to dating method. It is, as they say, what it is. I wonder, though, if what we are being mindful about will be open to wide interpretation. To me, mindfulness means being aware of and engaged in the Universe and respecting its laws, and in improving oneself in harmony with those laws.
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The article is the latest example of "Grindr-baiting" - a kind of stunt journalism where the gay dating app is used to report on closeted men. Many people on social media and in other news websites say the story effectively outed the gay athletes Hines messaged. It has since been edited to remove identifying details, then deleted - but older versions are still available with a bit of searching. After several minutes of Googling, I surmised the identities of five of the gay athletes Hines described. Stern wasn't alone.28 Olympians on How to Get Laid in the Olympic Village - Cosmopolitan