By Michelle Toh, CNN Business
British taxpayers now officially hold shares in a company that throws sex parties.
A government loan provided to Killing Kittens to help it through the pandemic has converted into an equity stake in the company, the British Business Bank confirmed on Tuesday.
Killing Kittens, which organizes women-led adult parties in cities including London and New York, secured the investment in 2020 from the UK government’s Future Fund, which was designed to help startups survive the coronavirus pandemic.
The company was founded by Emma Sayle in 2005, and organizes members-only parties in exclusive venues where “established gender stereotypes” are challenged, according to its website. It recorded a 330% increase in traffic to its website during coronavirus lockdowns, and now calls itself “the fastest-growing adult social network.”
At one point, the pandemic forced the company to move all its events and workshops online, accelerating existing plans to enter the sex tech industry — a fast-growing sector that encompasses products and businesses focused on enhancing sexual experiences.
Killing Kittens now has a mobile app that allows users to meet each other “for casual dating, friendship, kink partners or a long-term relationship,” according to a description on its website.
The government’s Future Fund previously awarded the company a loan of £170,000 ($221,780). The program, which is funded from tax revenue, typically provides debt financing of between £125,000 ($153,000) and £5 million ($6.1 million) to companies, subject to them at least matching the funding from private investors.
The government has picked up stakes in many other companies through the fund. As of this March, 337 convertible loans it had awarded to firms across the country also turned into equity after those players raised further funds.
Asked about the Killing Kittens investment on Tuesday, a British Business Bank spokesperson said that “applications that met all the eligibility criteria received investment.”
“The Future Fund used a set of standard terms with published eligibility criteria,” the representative added in a statement. “The process provided a clear, efficient way to make funding available as widely and as swiftly as possible without the need for lengthy negotiations.”
Killing Kittens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After the initial investment in 2020, Sayle joked that she had never “envisaged Boris as a sleeping partner,” referring to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
— CNN’s Eoin McSweeney and Hanna Ziady contributed to this report.
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