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EHarmony CEO Gregory Waldorf resigns

The leadership change may delay an IPO at the dating website, which is valued at about $660 million on the secondary markets.

January 19, 2011|Bloomberg News

EHarmony Inc. Chief Executive Gregory Waldorf has resigned from the dating website that he's run for almost five years.

Waldorf, 42, will be replaced on an interim basis by Greg Steiner, EHarmony's president and chief operating officer, while the board conducts a search for a permanent CEO, the Santa Monica company said Tuesday.

"As EHarmony begins its second decade, the time is right for me to step down," Waldorf said in a statement, without providing a reason for leaving.

Although EHarmony hasn't filed for an initial public stock offering, Waldorf said in an August interview that the company considered it "all the time." The leadership change may delay an IPO to give investors time to become familiar with new management.

"Without a CEO you can't go public," said Lise Buyer, principal of the IPO advisory firm Class V Group. "It's not just a matter of getting a new CEO — you need to let the new CEO get seasoned. Investors are always more comfortable if the CEO has been in the chair for a long time."

EHarmony is valued at about $660 million on the secondary markets, according to SharesPost Inc., an exchange for shares of private companies.

Founded by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, EHarmony has drawn more than 33 million registered users in 191 countries since its inception in 2000, according to its website. EHarmony was the fourth-most-visited U.S. dating site by number of unique visitors in December, according to ComScore Inc. IAC/Interactive Corp.'s Match.com is the biggest, followed by Zoosk Inc. and Plentyoffish Media Inc.

To match couples, EHarmony says that it accounts for 29 "dimensions of compatibility" that help predict the success of a relationship. Subscriptions cost $20 to $60 a month, depending on length of membership.

EHarmony has raised more than $100 million from Silicon Valley firms Sequoia Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures as well as Houston-based Fayez Sarofim & Co.

Waldorf, who has been involved with EHarmony as an investor since 2000, was named CEO in 2006. He was a founding member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business Management Board.

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