Peter Thiel's Right Stuff Dating App Going All Kinds Of Wrong
Not all of Peter Thiel's investments this year paid off as well as his shiny new senator from Ohio, JD Vance. He dropped $15 million into the black hole that was Blake Masters's US Senate campaign in Arizona. Now his equally creepy rightwing dating app, not-so-cleverly named The Right Stuff, looks like it's about to go belly up.
The Right Stuff launched 12 weeks ago and immediately alienated women, a useful demographic on a dating app. Not even Kayleigh McEnany's sister Ryann, with all her 146,000 Instagram followers, could convince (superficially) attractive, conservative women to sign up.
The startup reportedly generated 40,000 downloads in October, but from November 1 to December 20, it managed a total 11,000 downloads, which is less.
Perhaps Thiel's first error was cofounding the app with John McEntee, a former Trump administration office who was fired for issues related to online gambling and "mishandling taxes." He doesn't sound like the ideal business partner, but I lack Thiel's business savvy. Neither Thiel nor McEntee bothered to check if there was another dating site with the same lazy name: There is, and the other Right Stuff planned to send a cease-and-desist.
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The app has been hit with relentlessly negative reviews. Its desired customer base of young conservatives consider its intense verification process, which is intended to weed out potential trolls, a pain in the ass. The app wants to foster the exclusivity of a restricted club but so far only provides a similar customer service experience as Southwest Airlines.
“I downloaded this app more than two months ago, even got sent a package from them to become an ambassador, and STILL have not been accepted onto the app. That’s ridiculous and unacceptable,” read one review posted on Dec. 19.
If they were going for true exclusivity, they probably shouldn't have publicly declared The Right Stuff a conservative site. They could've gotten applications from fans of astronaut movies and New Kids on the Block. Then they covertly turn away everyone but conservatives, who love a rigged game in their favor. The current model just openly confirms that they don't have the woke mind virus. It's an ideological vaccine passport, so of course rightwingers resent it.
Potential users aren't so sure why such an onerous screening process is even necessary. They probably realize on a subconscious level at least that liberals aren't that interested in dating Trump supporters. The very few liberal trolls mostly keep off the platform and just post mocking App Store reviews. (I'd suggest finding a better hobby.)
A supposedly influential conservative staffer in Washington DC told the Daily Beast she doesn't "know anyone on the app," which kind of misses the point. It's a dating service, not ancestry.com. She thinks it was a mistake to launch in DC when there's "Democrat (sic) administration." C'mon, regardless of who's in the White House, DC is lousy with annoying Republicans.
One Republican woman, who works in MAGA politics, did recognize fellow conservative staffers but they apparently all worked for Mitch McConnell. Can't imagine why they're still single.
The Right Stuff also faced competition from another rightwing site launched by Kyle Kashuv, a conservative activist and Parkland school shooting survivor. It's called Cuffed, which is at least intriguing if most likely disappointing.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."