Henry Badenhorst, who founded the online gay dating site Gaydar, passed away at his native home in South Africa Saturday in what authorities are suspecting was an alleged suicide.

Badenhorst, who created the site in 1999 with his then late husband Gary Frisch, became the pioneer for gay-dating sites that people see today. The site quickly became the most popular dating site for gay and bisexual men, leading to Badenhorst and Frisch being placed at number three in the Independent’s “pink list” of the most influential gay people in the UK, in 2006.

In an 2009 interview with the Guardian, Badenhorst, who left the site in 2013, recalls what led him and his husband to creating the revolutionary site.

“It was June 1999. We had a Dutch friend called Frank who was single and said: ‘I need a boyfriend – can you help me?’ Badenhorst said. “We put him on Excite [a search engine] which had a dating section where you could upload a picture. But it took two weeks for him to get a response, so we said that we were sure we could create something specifically for the gay market.”

The news of Badenhorst’s death came as a shock to many, including Gaydar’s current managing director, Rob Curtis.

“Eighteen years ago, Henry and his partner Gary revolutionised the way that gay men meet and in doing so created a safer environment for LGBT people everywhere,” Curtis said. “We are shocked and saddened to hear of Henry’s passing and send our sincerest sympathies to Henry’s friends and family.”

The sudden death comes ten years after Frisch’s untimely passing, when he fell from his apartment after a night of partying. The couple had remained business partners after splitting months before Frisch’s death.