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Jack’d CEO Adam Segel: ‘Gay apps aren’t just for sex’

By Josh Haggis

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 17.05.41

With the use of dating apps becoming a staple in the gay community, I thought it seemed like the right time to get in touch with someone who runs one of them, Jack’d CEO Adam Segel, to ask a few questions.

Does Adam (pictured) think apps like his perpetuate the stereotype that gay men are promiscuous? How does he feel about apps like Jack’d being used to ‘hunt’ gay men in Russia? And does he know of any famous faces using his app? Find out what he had to say below.

What do you say to critics who argue that apps such as Jack’d only further the stereotype that gay men are promiscuous?
“I’d look around in hope that nobody heard them and then I’d tell them that they are embarrassing themselves. It’s a ludicrous generalisation – just like saying access to birth control makes women promiscuous or that gay men are all in search of straight men to ‘convert’. The truth is that gay men are just like everyone else. We seek happiness and success, good health and love, and yes, sex.

Yes, some people may use Jack’d and apps like it to hook up for sex, and I hope they find what they’re looking for. But what’s more fascinating is that gay guys today – especially younger men – are not as likely to be overtly sexual in their profiles or on their first move as men of even ten years ago. 40% of the Jack’d community recently self-reported in a survey that they are exclusively looking for long-term relationships and meaningful friendships when they use the app. Culture has progressed, it is no longer the ’70s, we are free to publicly behave just like everyone else – the good and the bad.

So yes, we might use an app to get laid, just like a straight guy might go to a bar to meet a girl and hook up. But that same straight guy might also meet a new buddy that night in the bar and they may become friends, or he could meet the woman who will become his wife. The same things happen on apps: gay and straight.”

Jack'dDo you use Jack’d yourself? If so, what was your best and worst experience?
“Every day. I love Jack’d. I’m actually meeting a guy tonight for the first time that I met on Jack’d. Wish me luck. He’s really handsome. I’ve also met guys who’ve become friends on Jack’d and I even met an artist on Jack’d who I later hired to do some work for us – so you never know who or what you’ll find.”

What’s been your best experience on Jack’d?
“Well, I’m hoping it turns out to be the sexy guy I’m meeting tonight! But if not, I did meet one of my very best friends though the app and while it may sound sappy, he’s probably the best thing in my life that has come from Jack’d. As for worst experience, that would have to be the guy I met who, to put it nicely, practised very poor hygiene.”

How do you feel about reports that gay social apps are being used to “hunt” gay men in countries such as Russia, where homophobia is a major social issue?
“It sickens me. We do not actively market Jack’d in Russia or any other country where gay people are regularly persecuted. However, it’s a tricky situation. In those same countries, gay men have to live entirely underground, and it is only through networks like Jack’d that they can find each other and communicate. It’s a very difficult catch-22. While we haven’t had to make a decision regarding Jack’d, I would have no problem removing our service entirely from a country if it was proven to be used to hunt gay men.”

How old is the oldest Jack’d user?
“God, I don’t have a clue, I’m sure we have a few daddies on the app, but generally we’ve found we’re really popular with young guys out there: 78% of our users are under 25. Crazy, crazy right?! I know that in the US, we found that we don’t have anyone over 51 using the app.”

Do you know of any particularly famous users of the app?Jack'd2
“Yes, I know of a few famous guys who love the app – but my lips are sealed. Adore Delano who was on this season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race tweeted a pic of her Jack’d profile a few months ago. You’ll just have to log on and see who you can find!”

With all the issues regarding privacy on Facebook – I’d love to know, what happens to all cheeky snaps people send over the app? 
“Fear not! We keep all images safe and secure and don’t show anyone anything that you have not made public.”

You hear stories of couples that have broken up after discovering one or both of them are still using gay social apps – while a big step in today’s gay relationships is deleting profiles on such apps. Has Jack’d made it harder to have a healthy, monogamous relationship?
“Not at all! If anything, we’ve helped more guys meet each other and form healthy relationships! Whether or not a couple chooses to be monogamous is their business but I know of many couples that use the app together. Some to find friends, some to keep in touch with friends they already know, and some, I’m sure, to find a cute third person to come over for some fun!”

JACK'D LOGOWhat does Jack’d have to offer that other apps don’t – and what does the future hold development-wise?
“What sets us apart? Over 87% of our users are under 30, and incredibly diverse. Our members are encouraged to post multiple pictures to their profiles, some of which can be locked. We also have a match-maker feature that helps you find Mr. Right, and if he’s into you before you even reach out to him. We have a feature called ‘Insights’ that will you give you information about the guy and how he behaves on the app: likeliness to reply, ages, types he replies to most, etc.”

And what can Jack’d users expect next?
“Next, people are going to see a very cool redesign of the app. All the functionality that is currently there will remain and we’ve added a few touches to make the app more fun.”

Find out more about Adam’s app on the Jack’d website. Also, watch an amusing video of straight guys trying out Jack’d for the first time here.