Hornet Acquires Vespa To Become #1 Gay App

San Francisco, July 5, 2016 -- Hornet - the world’s second largest gay social network - today announced that it has acquired Vespa, the leading gay city guide, to provide the most innovative set of apps to the 250 Million strong consumer segment of gay men worldwide.  Vespa’s founder and CEO Christof Wittig, who co-founded Hornet in 2011, has been appointed the new CEO, while co-founder Sean Howell is now Chairman and President of Hornet. 

With 15 Million total and 3 Million monthly active users, Hornet is the second largest gay social network worldwide after Grindr, which was acquired by Chinese Kunlun for US$ 155 Million earlier in 2016.  Founded in 2011, Hornet has been leading in product quality and innovation, garnering top ratings in the app store and already becoming number one in key markets such as France, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Taiwan.

 

With the acquisition of Vespa, Hornet will be able to extend its innovation lead by integrating gay places and events in 300 cities in 70 countries worldwide into its products. Together with its online magazine Unicorn Booty the gay app experience provided by Hornet now goes well beyond dating by facilitating an accessible, fun, and safe community for gay men all around the globe.

“I am excited to announce the fulltime engagement of my co-founder Christof at Hornet,” said Sean Howell, current CEO and future President. Howell will devote his time to supporting Wittig and remain active in day to day.  “This is the perfect time for Christof Wittig to become Hornet’s next Chief Executive Officer. Christof is an accomplished serial entrepreneur and founding CEO of multiple tech companies, which have grown to scale and successful exits. He will move the company forward with the speed required to capitalize on the opportunities in front of us to become the #1 gay app and scale our business in the US and worldwide.”

Before Hornet and Vespa, Wittig has started and run LiquidM, a mobile DSP delivered as SaaS; Servo Software, a mobile middleware platform for Android; and APSIS Software, a cost management software for the real estate industry. Over the past years, he has also been an active investor and/or board member in mobile apps, adtech, and analytics, incl. KeepSafe, Metago, Virta Health, AppAnnie, Boxfish, and Moviepilot.

“Investors have started to look favorably at vertical social networks and especially the gay marketplace. The increased acceptance of LGBT lifestyle and a better understanding for the purchasing power of the Pink Dollar have shone the spotlight on services like Hornet’s which has one of the highest engagement rates in the industry,” says Wittig.  “An app with over 25 Million messages a day is not often heard of.  This has convinced me to join Hornet full time as their CEO and help to drive growth.”

 

 

About Hornet Networks

Hornet is the world’s second largest gay social network.  Founded in 2011 with the mission to provide the best quality product, it has grown to 15 Million total and 3 Million monthly active users. Hornet is number one in key markets such as France, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, and Taiwan, and is consistently expanding its sizable userbase in the US.

 

About Vespa Networks

Vespa is the gay city guide for the Millennial generation.  Based on an extensive and carefully curated database of places and events in 300 cities in 70 countries, it provides a unique help to find what’s hidden in a city - at home or while traveling abroad.

press@hornetapp.com
https://hornetapp.com
https://www.vespa.rocks

 

National HIV Testing Day

It’s National HIV Testing Day it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about why knowing your status is such an important part of gay men’s health. Knowing your status means you have useful information about your health that you can take action on.

Hornet is happy to provide you with options for finding a testing locations, gaining more information about PrEP, and engaging other users about your status. In your Favorites section you will find a profile for AIDS.gov. When you send this profile a chat message it will help you find places nearby where you can go get an HIV test. It’s quick, it’s easy, and there may be multiple options nearby.

Testing can be a scary or nerve wracking experience. We understand that. One of the universal experiences of gay men is getting an HIV test. My last test was 20 years ago and I was worried and anxious because I thought it would come back positive. And it did. But I quickly learned that I could find support from friends, family, my community, and even online.

The most important things to realize after a positive result is that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, you can still have sex, and you can live a long, healthy life. Treatment options are available, even to those without insurance, and an undetectable viral loads means good health and that it’s virtually impossible to transmit HIV.

If you are negative you have options for preventing HIV. One of the newest options is PrEP: Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, which is when someone who is HIV-negative takes a daily pill to prevent HIV. More information about PrEP can be found through the AIDS.gov profile in your Favorites. Just send the word ‘info.” PrEP allows for great control and empowerment around your sexual health.

If you haven’t used the Know Your Status (KYS) feature in Hornet, now is the time to discover KYS. When you edit your profile you can choose to share your HIV status and you can set a testing reminder. This feature allows you to share more information with others and is also a convenient way to remember to get tested.

HIV testing day is not just about getting individuals tested. It’s about creating a world in which people are not negatively impacted by their test results. 

Whatever your HIV status you are a part of the Hornet community and we celebrate you, your health, and your sexuality. We strive to create a space free of judgment and stigma and where you can happily be who you are. Be yourself. Know yourself.

  Know your status. 

Orlando Need for Blood Donations

Our hearts go out to our lost brothers in Orlando, their families, including their gay boyfriends, friends and lovers.  However, we've sent a message to all of our users in Florida to donate blood if they're able and to ask their friends.

 

Right now, and following the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse, an LGBT nightclub, there is an official call for blood donations and urgent need to help the dozens of injured victims. For many of us gay and bisexual men, however, we remain legally barred from donating blood.

Under new FDA rules, a small minority of gay men who have been celibate for one year  are able to donate. 

While this fact may anger some and prevent many from donating, we want to focus on the urgent need that we must fill.  Please help those who can donate today do it. We've added to the discussion below on the legal barrier and will bring that fight up again in the weeks to come.

Donate Blood HERE

More on the donating blood issue:

Celebacy is a strong bar for any human being, gay or straight.  The bar includes monogamous long-term couples.   This bar is not equal.  Straight men and women who may have multiple anonymous lovers can donate at any time.  Therefore, the rules is really just a new way of banning gay men.  It is an illogical approach and not supported by science.  Globally this leaves the USA in the stone age as other countries removed such limitations.

The FDA has had a sour relationship with gay men stretching all the way back before the original HIV Crisis in 1983.  These new rules are again an issue of homophobia and not science.  is 

We will not condemn ourselves to do nothing.  Those who can donate will donate, those who can't will ask their friends, parents, and strangers.  

Our hearts hang low today but our chest beats and will honor our lost and we will go on loving.  #LoveWin

Other ways to help victims and the community click here.

DatingAdvice.com Names Hornet as One of the Best

DatingAdvice features the best places to meet LGBT online.  Online communities whether for dating or social help gays connect.  Hornet was singled out for the positive ratings from users and our tech innovation.

We're looking forward to more tech innovation on our side and making the list again next year!

If you're happy with our app, please write a nice comment in the app store and let the greater community hear why you like it better.

 

Introducing Hashtags! Find Profiles Faster through Better Searches

In the latest update, Hornet lets users cache profiles with hashtags for better, customizable searches.

Think back to when you first signed up for Hornet. Maybe you were an online dating pro, with folders of apps and spotless selfies ready to send. Maybe you were totally new to the scene, unsure if online dating was for you, anxious to download the app and meet someone special. No matter how your story with us began, we at Hornet want to give you more tools to keep telling that story—to find the right community for your passions, your pleasures and your interests.

What's Your Hashtag?

What's Your Hashtag?

That’s why our latest update has a new yet familiar feature—hashtags. You can now categorize your profile with the hashtag symbol and a keyword, just like Twitter and Facebook. Now, Hornet Search can pull up your profile more easily through an endless variety of search terms, bringing you one step closer to Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now. Whether you’re #looking or just need a few #friends for karaoke night, Hornet’s hashtags introduce you more quickly to men who want just what you want. 

No guy fits neatly into just a few categories, like “geek” or “twink.” Some of us are still #questioning. Some of us have been out for a while and are looking for the perfectly snug #littlespoon. Gay men are so much more than sexual orientation. Our diverse interests make us a vibrant community of fans, professionals and amateur hobbyists. Love #baking? Find someone to make a sweet confection for two. Can’t stop binging #JessicaJones? Cozy up for some Netflix and chill. Planning a #hiking trip this weekend? Take to the outdoors with a friend. Hornet celebrates your interests, and we’re making it easier than ever to share what makes you unique with someone special.

Hornet wants to put the power to find what’s right for you in your hands. These hashtags go deeper than regular profile filters and open up incredible new possibilities for our community of 7 million men strong. Our mission is still to give every single user a chance to find his community. 

Start hashtagging today and see who you discover in your area! Share with us your favorite hashtags here on the app or on Twitter at @HornetApp.

Introducing Hornet for Web (Beta)

Today, we're very excited to announce the launch of a product we’ve been wanting to build for quite some time now. Since our launch, we’ve focused on building out quality apps to connect you to guys around you. However, we kept on hearing from guys that they'd love to use Hornet from their desktop as well, and we tend to agree, some things are just better on the big screen. So, to make Hornet more accessible to our fast growing community, we're launching Hornet for Web!

Using Hornet for Web makes it more convenient to get to your conversations and browse guys around you from the comfort of your computer. While we were working on Hornet for Web, we certainly learnt to appreciate the luxury of having a full keyboard at our disposal :)

So without further ado, you can visit https://beta.hornet.network and try it for yourself! 

Supported languages: Czech, Danish, English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese Traditional.

More languages are rolling out over the coming days and weeks. You can help speed up translation of Hornet into your language at http://local.gthrnt.com

Current Limitations:

  • Hornet for Web is currently best used on your desktop browser, on mobile we offer the best experience on our Android and iOS apps. 

While Hornet for Web is currently only available to existing Hornet app users, web registration for guys without the iOS or Android app will be opened up soon. 

Give it a try and let us know what you think on Twitter, Facebook, the Hornet Community and through the feedback links on Hornet for Web.

Leading gay mobile app takes major steps to raise HIV awareness among its 4 million members

Hornet announces significant enhancements to its “Know Your Status” feature.  These include giving users the options to disclose if they are taking PrEP HIV prevention medication or if they are positive and an undetectable viral load.  In addition, to help users who are positive Hornet is launching a community for positive men to meet each other. The goal is to meaningfully raise the awareness and education of HIV to those who need it most: the gay men around the world meeting through the app. 

HIV infections are rising among gay men, especially younger ones. In the US, 20% of gay and bisexual men are estimated to be living with HIV, yet a recent study found 44% of the men under the age of 35 said they had never been tested for HIV. [Source]

 Overseas, the situation is even worse, with many countries ignoring HIV education completely and openly discriminating against gays. Hornet is the most popular gay app in a number of these countries, and the app is not just their only link to other gay guys but now their source of information on HIV.

Hornet CEO, Sean Howell said, “We are committed to looking for ways to eliminate stigma about this disease and to share the latest health facts on preventing HIV and empowering those living with HIV better options for self-expression. With our global reach, we can really make a difference.”

 First of the changes are two new options that now appear in the Know Your Status (KYS) section of members’ profiles:

 “Positive, Undetectable”. This option is for those who are HIV Positive, on successful Antiretroviral Therapy, and when tested for viral load register undetectable. Studies have shown that this type of treatment can reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to their HIV Negative partners by as much as 96%.

 The second new option is “Negative, on PrEP”. A recent survey of gay men in the US found that only 1 in 4 knew about the existence of PrEP, yet it can be greater than 90% effective at preventing HIV infection.

 Howell continued, “In planning all of these changes we were shocked when we surveyed a sample of our members about their lack of understanding of either of these options. In fact, nearly all guys told us they had to search online to find out what these meant before they could answer our questions. Having done so, a clear majority felt these new options were important and should be added to the app”.

 The interviews conducted with Hornet members underlined the need to explain and educate.  The third significant change is that the app now includes comprehensive background on HIV/AIDS, and detailed explanations of all the different KYS profile choices. Recognizing the global reach of the Hornet app, this information is being translated into 26 different languages. Whether Hornet members are in San Francisco, London, Paris, Moscow, São Paulo, Istanbul or Bangkok does not matter - the same information is available to them all.

 The fourth new change is the introduction of a much-requested feature to help HIV Positive guys find each other more easily on Hornet. Those members can now filter for other HIV Positive guys.  If your status is positive you will now see a filter in the app to show you other guys who are also positive. This filter is only shown to our members who have set one of the two Positive options in the KYS menu.

All of these improvements are in addition to the existing features which include reminders to get tested every 6 months, and the zip code lookup for finding an HIV test center.

 Screenshots:

Profile Edit Information, with KYS choices, and extra information for those who need it: (download)

 

In-App Reminders to get tested: (download)

In addition, Hornet added additional information pages helping users to gain information on PreP and to reduce stigma.

Celebrating Tim Cook's Coming Out

Tim Cook is a hard working, likable guy and now titan of industry.  For many, even in the gay community, it was ok to regard his sexual orientation as private.  For Cook - rarely in the press prior to his CEO role - it seemed everyone respected his discreteness.  

Recently the New York Times asked, in “Technology's Rainbow Connection” if there is a "Gorilla Glass closet"? Journalist Kara Swisher said there are gay people from a certain era who just don't want to come out.  Tim Cook, likely fits into that era, but has broken through and in doing so this has huge consequences for ranks of executives, professionals, and young teens everywhere.

I can remember my own parents, seemingly in fatherly and motherly love, worried that my coming out would hurt my career in finance.   Little did they know that Tim Cook would come into view just a few years later. It seems as big as when the first gay kiss on network television happened within months of my coming out. Thank you, Will & Grace! I am 34 now and, like Cook, also a gay CEO.

If your son was the CEO of a company like Exxon, it might be hard to be completely proud of your son… at least for now with Exxon.  But Apple is a company most people hold dear, from using an Apple II in school, or the Macintosh, the first computer with a mouse, to now aspirational products like the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Tim Cook isn’t a typical flashy, self promoting, media darling of a CEO.  He has the same piety that even the Midwest can look up to.  Being LGBT is a kind of minority status you can easily hide and because of that, unfortunately for several decades too few important gays came out until late in life.

Staying in the closet means never really being who you are to the people around you the most, especially work colleagues.  To say it doesn’t matter if Tim Cook is gay or not is a convenient old idea that keeps us in the closet.  He can come to work and do his job regardless of who he loves.  That idea is fine if you never want to get to know Tim Cook.  But imagine you have a friend Tom, your best friend even; to say it doesn’t matter if Tom is gay or not is to say you never really knew him.  Having a world that keeps every future Tim Cook in the closet until he is 53 is a real shame.  If that Tim Cook happens to be your son, let’s pray you live long enough until he reaches 53 so you can really know him as well.

Questions will clearly come up about the consequences of Cook’s coming out.  Will it impact Apple stock price?  Will conservatives do a sell off? Will they have iPhones in countries run by religious dictators? But that has all been answered.  Those who thought Tim Cook had something to lose by coming out were just shown he didn’t.  He’s out.  Harvey Milk shared to us all that we must come out, “Every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends, if indeed they are your friends. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and all. And once you do, you will feel so much better”. But, your son or daughter, whether they are 13 years old or 53 years old may fear they have you to lose by coming out.  So reach out and tell your straight child you love them no matter what or it may be you who has something to lose….the time of really getting to know them.  If you are an employer you too must show your employees they are welcome--a memo in support of Pride month, an HRC sticker, a diversity statement.