Celebrities avoided it out of embarrassment. Instead, Mr. Gendelman thought, what if there were an app that felt more like a dinner party — an intimate, thoroughly vetted collection of interesting people having candid conversations? He put together a small team and began to build. He called the app Raya, after the Hebrew word for friend, and seeded it with a group of his friends in Los Angeles. Gendelman said. Among actual Raya members, reviews are mixed. A friend confessed that she loved it and had used it to score several dates, including one with a Grammy-winning musician.
On other dating apps, Mr. Telle said, women often accused him of being an impostor using fake photos to get dates. Their suspicion may have stemmed from his eight-pack abs and frankly ridiculous jaw line. He did not have that problem on Raya, where everyone has eight-pack abs and ridiculous jaw lines. Telle, who is now dating someone and has stopped actively using Raya. Gendelman, a self-described introvert, has chosen to stay quiet. For years, he avoided publicly identifying himself, even hiding his job from some friends and family.
He has kept the company small — Raya has just 13 full-time employees — and has raised only a few small investment rounds. But slowly, Raya is beginning to step out. It introduced a real-time map feature that allows users to opt in to sharing their locations with other members. Come for the models, stay for the deals.
Gendelman would not share financial information but said that he expects Raya to become profitable this year. Ultimately, though, Mr. Instead, his vision is to see Raya become a kind of digital Davos, a meeting place for influential people to concoct all kinds of commercial, artistic and humanitarian projects. The heart of Raya is its screening process, which is overseen by a secret committee of about trusted members who vote on every application.
From Raya to Tinder Select: the world of elite dating apps | Technology | The Guardian
Gendelman said that Raya has more than 10, members spread across dozens of countries. Having a big Instagram following is not a prerequisite for being admitted. Neither must you be ridiculously attractive, or have lots of money. Gendelman said instead that conspicuous displays of wealth are a red flag. I asked Mr. Gendelman to show me some Raya applications. First in the queue was a male fashion photographer.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
He is in his early 30s, good-looking, seemingly well known in his field. Next up was a musician, a young guy with ratty blond hair. A Google search turned up some recent high-profile media hits for his band. The musician also got a yes. Friend passes will make Raya more democratic, Mr. Gendelman said, a point that is directionally if not factually correct.
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So, yes, Raya is less superficial than its reputation would suggest. But surely Mr. Gendelman would admit that attractiveness and social capital play some role in its criteria for admission.
Is Raya the Gay LinkedIn?
Unlike the other services, though, Inner Circle makes it easier to mingle with fellow members by throwing exclusive invite-only events for users around Europe. So what are your chances of making it through? Unless you're an Adonis, not good: Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist, and totally comfortable with the fact that he'd never make it on to any of these apps.
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