NEW YORK TIMES - June 27 - 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. The app costs $7.99 a month, but joining is no small ordeal. Prospective members are evaluated by an algorithm and human gatekeepers. ~8% of applicants are accepted. There are other elite dating apps, such as the League, which reportedly has 300K 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. Keeping up Raya's values and mystique is partly why Mr. 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. The company recently acquired Chime, a video messaging app started by Jared Morgenstern, an early Facebook employee who is now Raya's COO. It introduced a real-time map feature that allows users to opt in to sharing their locations with other members. Mr. Gendelman would not share financial information but said that he expects Raya to become profitable this year.
by Kevin Roose
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