Hornet CEO Harnesses Purchasing Power of LGBTQ+ Community
The loudest voices and strongest changemakers often emerge from the sidelines. In their efforts to be recognised and represented, and by dint of their diminished population, minority groups are required to surmount far greater hardships than most.
After all, the modern LGBTQ+ movement can trace its roots back to a room full of society’s outsiders who, over fifty years ago, emerged from the Stonewall Inn and took to the streets simply to have their voices heard.
Those battle cries for equality have echoed through the decades and are now reverberating in some unexpected arenas: the world of cryptocurrency. Given its own status as an alternative economy, cryptocurrency is another major changemaker to have emerged from the sidelines in recent years — and is now capitalising on minority groups with untapped purchasing power.
One entrepreneur who has closely followed this trend is Christof Wittig, CEO and founder of both the LGBT Foundation and popular gay networking app Hornet. Since early 2018, Wittig has utilised Hornet’s existing worldwide customer base of 30 million users — a reported 10% share of the queer community internationally — to incentivise the LGBT Token, a queer alternative to Bitcoin offered by his LGBT Foundation, as a means of purchasing membership for the app.
Founded in San Francisco ten years ago by Wittig and Sean Howell, who currently divides his time between the company and new organic produce startup Buffalo Market — also based in San Francisco — Hornet prides itself on the international scope if its user base. Building on its sizeable subscriber base in the US, Hornet is the leading gay networking app in territories such as Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Taiwan, and France.
Outside of Hornet, other LGBT-run businesses in San Francisco were quick to implement the LGBT Token as tradeable currency, having recognised the fiscal potential of a demographic whose disposable income is not traditionally tied down by child-rearing. Speaking exclusively for this article, Wittig asserts “cryptocurrencies are a perfect fit for the LGBTQ+ community, as both are equally founded in a decentralized model, based on each individual’s participation and contribution. An LGBTQ+ person’s identity is based on who they choose to be,” a sentiment echoing what Wittig identifies as the “pseudonymity principle inherent to cryptocurrencies.”
Simply put, the ability of cryptocurrency to change and evolve — particularly given its natural volatility, prone to rapid market fluxes — is what allows the LGBTQ+ community to unify for greater impact within this virtual economy.
Yet while Wittig proposes that crypto and the queer community “are going to be natural partners,” he remains realistic as to its present key obstacles: “Cryptocurrencies are not easy to operate for the average user, and have little day-to-day benefits over proprietary point systems or fiat currencies. In addition, overbearing regulation makes issuing and administering cryptocurrencies extremely expensive.”
Costly hurdles such as these are undoubtedly off-putting, but the significance of the pink dollar, and especially the endeavours of the LGBT Foundation to fully utilise it, lies within the strength of its ideals. That core idea — to evaluate and utilise the spending power of a minority consumer base — is a secure foundation stone, and one reflected by the mission statement of the LGBT Token “to bring crypto to the global pink economy in order to leverage the underserved 4.6 trillion USD market.”