Swipe right (wing): Former Trump aides seek singles on Thiel-backed dating app

At a hip basement bar in Washington’s Shaw neighborhood, singles from conservative nonprofits, GOP offices on Capitol Hill and right-wing media groups sipped craft cocktails from an open bar in the glow of neon lights on a Thursday night, part of the building effort to generate buzz and create a user base for a new dating app created by former Trump White House staffers and backed by tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

There’s a long list of failed or now-defunct conservative dating apps that have popped up in recent years, including Righter, Donald Dater, TrumpSingles, Patrio, and Conservatives Only.

Co-founders John McEntee, who was a personal adviser to former President Trump and then director of the White House Human Resources Office, and Daniel Huff, a Trump-appointed staffer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and also a White House adviser, say The Right Stuff will be different.

“What we are doing has really never been done before. No one has built a high-quality, properly funded app with a dedicated team,” Huff said in an interview.

“It’s an important, underserved market,” Huff said. “Liberals have the education, corporate media, and we can’t let them control our personal relationships.”

Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal who was also the first outside investor in Facebook, has poured around $1.5 million into the dating app, one of many of his investments in the political right. He’s also invested in Rumble, an alternative to YouTube popular with conservatives, and this election cycle he’s poured millions into supporting Trump-backed GOP Senate candidates JD Vance in Ohio and Blake Masters in Arizona.

Some singles at the Shaw event were optimistic that The Right Stuff — free from the “wake” features found on other platforms — will help them find right-wing love without a flood of users—Trump voters, conservatives, or the unvaccinated tells them to swipe left.

Jordan Lamb, an intern at a conservative nonprofit, said she and her friends trudge through a dozen or more liberal men before finding even one conservative on popular dating apps.

“I know a lot of young conservatives who are very frustrated with using dating apps because the apps don’t reflect their values,” Lamb said. “They forced you to have pronouns or BLM tags or vaccinated/unvaccinated … So I think there’s definitely a huge need for that.”

But others at the event were skeptical. Some participants worried whether enough conservative women would sign up for the app, wondered if people outside the Beltway would join, and pointed out that some major dating apps already allow users to target conservative matches. For example, Bumble allows users to filter potential matches based on political views, but this advanced feature requires a subscription.

With Thiel’s backing, The Right Stuff strives for technologically high quality. Southern California-based app developer and creative agency Naked Development are developing the app.

And unlike other dating apps that were only for Trump supporters or encouraged long-term relationships via one-night stands, The Right Stuff takes a broader approach.

“It’s for all types of conservatives and all types of dating,” Huff said.

For now, the app only caters to straight relationships — its “core constituency,” as Huff said — but it intends to expand to same-sex relationships “later.”

And despite the existence of other right-wing dating apps, Huff said there’s a huge market for a conservative dating company.

Other dating platforms have found success for those looking for a partner with certain core values. Numerous shops look after Jewish or Christian singles, for example.

“Politics has almost become a religion for some people,” Huff said.

Concerns about the app’s success outside of DC, he countered, arguing that those who believe right-wing views are a must in a romantic partner would find it in other major metropolitan areas without the conservative social scene that thrives on Capitol Hill in the think tank heavier have circles and elsewhere.

“They want to be able to find the Conservatives’ pool. And if you’re just relying on people you meet, statistically the odds aren’t good,” Huff said.

The app also has an advantage that others haven’t had: founders and supporters with deep connections to the right-wing political ecosystem.

Ryann McEnany, the sister of former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, has slipped into conservative women DMs on social media in a bid to get her to take part on the app. She also traveled last month to the conservative Turning Point USA’s Young Women’s Leadership Summit in Texas, a gathering of thousands of young women to recruit for The Right Stuff.

A video advertisement for the app, played at that conference, featured dramatizations of bad data: a man who didn’t want children out of concerns about climate change; a man who didn’t pay for the date because he brought the wrong fanny pack; a man who came by bike on a date and invited her to ride the handlebars on the way to her road trip.

“Start dating regular guys,” the promo concluded.

The developers know that recruiting enough women for the app will be key to its success, which is reflected in their business model.

It uses a premium subscription model with a free basic version available to everyone but a subscription for men. Women, on the other hand, do not have to pay anything.

“Obviously this whole thing doesn’t work if you don’t have the right proportions,” Huff said.

The Right Stuff team also hopes that new features will set it apart from the competition. A feature with the working name “Posted Date” allows users to advertise potential dates to encourage personal interaction.

“Basically, ‘Oh, I’ve got two tickets to a ball game, who wants to go?’ And then multiple people can say, ‘Hey, I’m interested,’ and then you end up picking one,” Huff said. “It’s an idea to take people on fun dates instead of just sitting on the phone texting back and forth.”

“These other platforms are catching up. We go ahead. We’re doing something even better,” Huff said.

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