Hornet, new mobile gay dating app, is unlike others

Review: App creators stress friendship, give attention to health and social issues

by Victor Lopez  Contributing Writer  
Published: April 24, 2013 in A&E / Life&Style

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Victor Lopez, a qnotes contributor, writes in to tell us about his personal experience with a new gay dating app, Hornet. He also spoke briefly to Hornet’s creator. His review below:

Nowadays there seems to be an a mobile app for everything, including dating.

Long before my last breaking up , I deleted my Grindr, an application that is a household name in most gay circles.

Call me old fashioned, but I wanted to meet people face to face and found it creepy that the application pin pointed to my exact location and told a perfect stranger how close they were to me.

There was something seedy about texting the headless torsos on my little phone’s screen.

Even when I was bored I thought that Grindr simply lacked the kind of fun and sophistication that piqued my interest. I had long given up on dating sites such as Adam4Adam and Manhunt or even Gay.com — they started to have the feel of a bathhouse, or a seedy bar. In the land of online dating I had decided there simply was not a market out there for those who wanted to meet decent people to chat with.

Was I the last gay man on earth who did not want to hook up? I literally was parched for conversation from other gay men. Sure I have a sexual appetite but I do draw a line sometime.

And then like a ray of sunshine, a friend suggested that I look into Hornet (gethornet.com).

“I only have it because I’m bored, but it is pretty awesome and a little like Facebook,” said my friend.

After incredulously scolding my friend, who has a boyfriend, for having any gay social apps, which are tools for hooking up, I downloaded it.

Incredibly Hornet was different right off the bat.

Not only was the interface user-friendly, but you can literally search the world for someone to talk to and not pay a dime for the service. Social issues were addressed within the application, such as knowing your HIV status and “Obama Pride.” I was intrigued.

I looked for answers to my questions, and received a candid, in-your-face, fact-filled interview from Hornet’s CEO and Co-Founder, Sean Howell.

Sean Howell

Sean Howell

Victor Lopez: What inspired you to create such an application?
Sean Howell: So many things go into the story. Our founders are all serious technologists. The other apps just didn’t seem to deliver what we knew was possible from a technology perspective. The future of smart technology is just beginning so we expect to see a lot of evolution here and we’re in the best position to implement it. Aside from my background as an analyst, I am also an activist and really wanted something different than Grindr.

With Planet Out’s collapse came a vacuum of online places for people to talk. Having multiple pictures means people aren’t just posting their headless torso and putting their best assets forward, so in addition to the usual activity we have something that helps people looking for a lot more than just sex, especially with travelers or people who are just moving to a city. The gay community has a lot of sexual energy, but we also have a lot more to us than just that. We built a community that helps that.

What purposes does Hornet serve other than hooking up and why?
We (the staff at Hornet) are made up of bleeding heart homos whose backgrounds are VCs, technologists, and activists, this gives our community a much different feel. You can see it in the app store reviews and the 200 feedback emails that come in each day, people don’t just use us for dating, they’re using us for business networking, to get a job, to explore moving, to plan their vacations–that’s possible on the others (apps such as Grindr) but I’d argue you’d be interrupting someone’s mood to all the sudden ask them what’s the best place for ice cream in Philadelphia or their favorite place to stay when visiting NYC.

How do you compare to your competition, like Grindr?
I didn’t know that was my competition. They’re a really different product and you’ll see people who have multiple apps depending on their moods. Hornet is not competing for moods, it offers something different.

In land of dating applications we haven’t seen anything yet. While many will go on dating sites to hook up, Hornet is starting the revolution in making an app more than a hook up device. Stay tuned.