Jane Jie Sun
Ma Baoli made some history this year after his company, BlueCity, best known for its dating app Blued, became the world’s first LBGTQ+-focused social network to become a publicly listed company.
Ma, then a police officer, quit his job to set up Blued in 2011. He'd previously founded one of China’s first and most influential LBGTQ+ online forums Danlan as a solution to what he says were his frustrations at being a gay man in China.
Nine years on and Blued has 49 million registered users around the world. Almost 50% of its active users are outside China, and the app is the largest LBGTQ+ community in India, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Ma says Blued stands out from its rivals by offering services beyond dating and live streaming services. In 2017 it launched Bluedbaby, which provides surrogacy support and advice. Last year Ma rolled out HeHealth, which offers access to a range of HIV-related medication and consulting services.
Ma, who once said he felt like he was the only gay man in China, says he is on a personal mission to promote social equality for and wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community.
“BlueCity can empower more people and give them greater courage to be their true selves,” he tells Business Insider.