Nat Versus the Volcano: Can an AI Investor Solve an Ancient Mystery from the Ashes of Vesuvius?Read more

Grindr and Motto founder Joel Simkhai. Photo-collage by Clark Miller; photo of Simkhai by Gregory Scaffidi/Courtesy Motto.
Grindr and Motto founder Joel Simkhai. Photo-collage by Clark Miller; photo of Simkhai by Gregory Scaffidi/Courtesy Motto.

Fifteen Years After Founding Grindr, Joel Simkhai Has ‘Unfinished Business’

After a few years out of the limelight, the godfather of gay hookup apps has returned with a new service, Motto, and a desire to do it even better this time.

June 30, 2023 11:00 AM PDT

On a sweat-soaked New York afternoon over Pride Weekend, a short line formed outside a dark bar on the Lower East Side. After checking customers’ IDs, a boyish-looking bouncer at the front door asked if they’d downloaded the app they needed to get in: “Do you have Motto?”

I pulled up the app, its home screen affixed with the photo of an anonymous man—handsome, smiling, hairy and shirtless—and a clock that ticked down the time until a new batch of guys’ profiles would be available to browse. Motto was my ticket to the party, filled with gay men in tank tops and dad caps, bartenders serving $14 High Noons, and goodie bags filled with Advil and eye masks.

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