Forget sex: Badoo plans to win America with Spanish

You can’t mention Badoo, which claims to be the world’s fourth-largest social network, without mentioning sex. It became notorious this time last year for using controversial tactics to build a “social dating service” that many saw as a way for the wayward, sex-crazed hordes to find illicit liaisons.

But that’s not a characterization that anyone at the London-based company — including notoriously reclusive founder and CEO Andrey Andreev — is happy with. They see the service they’ve built as a sort of virtual nightclub, where people can go to make friends or simply talk to other interesting people. Sometimes it acts as a dating service, and sometimes that ends up with a bit of carnal indulgence — but isn’t that just what young people do?


Meeting Andreev, though, it quickly becomes apparent that ditching the sex-hungry image is less about some personal irritation at being called names. The restless Russian couldn’t give two hoots what anyone except users think of him, or Badoo.


Instead, it’s really a sensible business move.


The company already boasts more than 130 million users, but if it wants to carry on growing and edging into the mainstream, it needs to eradicate the scent of sleaze — particularly in America, where the nation’s fiercely puritanical streak would likely see the service demonized even more thoroughly than Britain’s prurient, curtain-twitching media has done.

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