Hornet Raises $8M to Become Gay Content Hub, 17M Users, 3M MAU with CEO Christof Wittig

Christof Wittig

In Episode #606, Nathan interviews Christof Wittig. He’s a serial, software entrepreneur and investor. Currently, he’s the founder and CEO of Hornet Networks, the world’s second largest gay social network and is a managing partner of Strive, based in San Francisco. He’s an investor and board member of various companies including Enish, Metago, KeepSafe, VirtaHealth, Black Medicine, Movie Pilot, Box Fish and App Annie. He has been active in the US, Germany, and throughout Asia.

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Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – Zero to One
  • What CEO do you follow? – Sami Inkinen
  • Favorite online tool? — com
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— Yes
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – Christof wished he told himself to be bold, that he didn’t need a degree, and to follow his dreams

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 02:19 – Nathan introduces Christof to the show
  • 03:09 – Strive and Hornet came at the same time to Christof
    • 03:32 – Hornet started as a side project
  • 03:50 – Christof exited Servo Software before Hornet
  • 04:00 – Hornet is Christof’s first consumer business
  • 04:10 – Servo Software was launched in 2004
  • 05:02 – Christof sold Servo software in 2010
  • 05:20 – Hornet’s capital came from that exit
  • 05:48 – Christof is now 48
  • 05:58 – Nathan had Sean Howell, Hornet’s co-founder in Episode 440
  • 06:20 – Sean focused on marketing
  • 06:50 – Sean and Christof are running it together
  • 07:10 – Hornet had a subscription model and premium option
  • 07:50 – Hornet’s revenue is 2/3 from subscription and 1/3 from ads
  • 08:00 – Hornet’s future revenue model
  • 08:28 – GHI
  • 09:02 – Hornet raised their $8M in their Series A
  • 10:05 – Hornet’s focus is the advertising revenue
  • 10:46 – “Our focus is to get more engagement”
    • 10:57 – Engagement is measured through sessions
    • 11:12 – Peak days
  • 11:30 – User base
    • 11:41 – 3M monthly active and 1.5M daily active
  • 12:09 – The key metrics to track the number of sessions
  • 12:30 – Christof shares about Tinder
  • 13:16 – Hornet sells CPM and provides premium exposure
  • 14:00 – Hornet has a feed model to drive more organic traffic
  • 14:34 – Hornet has the following features
  • 15:20 – Hornet’s published price for CPM
  • 15:56 – The number of advertisers currently working with Hornet
  • 16:28 – Hornet uses TFP for their ads
  • 17:10 – Hornet has the largest gay media newsroom in the USA
    • 17:30 – The story feed makes the interaction in the gay community easier
  • 18:05 – Christof shares where they spend the $8M
  • 18:25 – Hornet also spends in marketing
  • 18:39 – Christof wants users to understand that Hornet isn’t just about dating
  • 19:00 – User growth
  • 19:30 – Hornet takes the new concept of the gay app to the next level
  • 20:14 – Hornet is about creating a new digital space for the gay community
  • 21:35 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. They gay community needs a place where it’s not just about dating, but having interactions with the whole community.
  2. The focus isn’t always on the number of users, especially if you’re driving traffic well.
  3. A degree isn’t as important as just following your dreams.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Drip – Nathan uses Drip’s email automation platform and visual campaign builder to build his sales funnel
  • Toptal– Nathan found his development team using Toptal for his new business Send Later. He was able to keep 100% equity and didn’t have to hire a co-founder due to the quality of Toptal
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible.
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Jamf – Jamf helped Nathan keep his Macbook Air 11” secure even when he left it in the airplane’s back seat pocket
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives