Gay dating platform Hornet today announced the acquisition of a new company as it appoints a familiar face as CEO.
Hornet has bought Vespa, a gay city guide created by Christof Wittig, who co-founded Hornet back in 2011.
And with the purchase of the travel app, fellow co-founder Sean Howell is stepping down as CEO, with Wittig taking control of the dating company.
Howell will now take the position of Chairman and President of Hornet.
Vespa is a gay travel platform that serves as a directory of over 5,000 gay-friendly places around the world.
Hornet will integrate this directory into its social & dating network, improving the platform’s community aspect and helping it to move further into the social space.
Speaking about the acquisition and appointment, Howell said: “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 had 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 Vespa, Wittig also built Saas startup LiquidM, which raised over $10m, mobile middleware platform Servo Software and real estate cost management software APSIS Software.
Speaking about returning to the company he founded, Wittig said: “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.
“An app with over 25m 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.”
Founded in 2011, Hornet now has 15m users and 3m MAUs, and is the second largest gay social network behind Grindr – 60% of which was bought by Chinese company Kunlun Tech earlier this year for $93m.
In June, Hornet made some fundamental changes to its mobile platform, adapting the way singles discover one another with two new tabs.
Read more about the change here.