Gay social network appoints its co-founder Christof Wittig as CEO to drive growth
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.”