Grindr Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Hackathon To Combat LGBT Inequality

Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai says he's not sure what will come out Hack4Equality, "but that's the beauty of it."

Grindr is taking aim at issues facing the global LGBT community with a first-of-its-kind hackathon. Beginning August 6 in L.A., Hack4Equality will bring together programmers, product and software developers, designers and other tech all-stars to tackle LGBT homelessness, trans visibility, sexual health and LGBT oppression around the world.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know what’s going to come out of this,” admits Grindr CEO Joel Simkhai. “But that’s the beauty of it.”

grindr joel simkhai

To help spur the teams’ creativity, Grindr will make its native data available for the first time, alongside government census information from The White House’s Opportunity Project.

Simkhai assures that Grindr’ users anonymity and privacy will still be respected, but the analytics will provide valuable insights into their habits. “Data is a foundation of a lot of technology,” he tells NewNowNext. “It will be up to these teams to figure out what to do with it. They’ll have to analyze the data over time and see what’s interesting and try to figure out what problems to solve.”


By the end of the seven-week program, Grindr and its community partners—including AllOut, the It Gets Better Project, Trans*H4CK and The Center for Open Data Enterprise—hope to see innovative new apps, websites and other tech services emerge that can address issues crucial to the LGBT community. The results could be anything from a social media platform that connects activists around to an app that grades businesses on their LGBT-friendliness.

Prizes will be awarded for top designs, but Simkahi says its really about solving problems globally.

“Our hope is that several teams will be able to run with these ideas… [and we’d help] partner with us in developing these ideas” and getting them to market, he says.

Registration for Hack4Equality is still open, and Simkhai encourages anyone with fresh ideas to participate.

“This will only be successful if we get great teams who are thinking about [these issues] and can help us get out and achieve it.”

John Russell is a New York-based entertainment and lifestyle journalist. He has been called “the Courtney Love throwing Chanel compacts at Madonna and Kurt Loder” of his generation.