NIKKEI ASIA - Oct 16 - The Founder of Blued was police officer by day and online activist by night. Ma Baoli built a business that runs from livestreaming to health care and family planning and made to the U.S. stock market. In July, Blued's parent company, Beijing-based BlueCity Holdings, raised $84.8m in its Nasdaq IPO. Ma founded BlueCity in his Beijing apartment. It is not illegal to be gay in China, but homosexuality was considered a mental disorder until 2001. Ma poured 50k yuan ($7,400), his savings, into building Blued which went viral with 500k users the following year. In 2020 the market valuation is $335m and has DCM Ventures, Xiaomi's investment arm Shunwei Capital and Hong Kong property group New World Development as backers, and has 500 employees. Zank was Blued's chief competitor and was shut down by Chinese regulators in 2017. Lesbian dating app, Rela, was temporarily removed from the Android and Apple app stores in 2017 to undergo an "important adjustment in services."
The global LGBTQ community spent $261B online in 2018, and is expected to double by 2023, according to Frost & Sullivan. BlueCity remains unprofitable reporting a net loss of 3.3m yuan in Q2 2020. Shares trade 40% below their IPO price. BlueCity has piggybacked on the rise of online celebrities, generating 210m yuan, 85% of its revenue, in Q2 2020.