Every day in America, 542 people marry after meeting on eHarmony.com -- according to the online dating website. That's 5 percent of all new U.S. marriages. On average, there's an eHarmony wedding every 2.65 minutes, the company claims. Playing cupid in an astonishing total of 565,000 marriages worldwide are eHarmony's co-founder, Neil Clark Warren, and his patented algorithms.
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Warren, 78, is a Christian theologian who worked as a clinical psychologist for 35 years, counseling married couples. "Marriage can be very stressful," he told Off The Cuff. "You have 1,000 different thoughts and feelings and needs and wishes around someone. And you sometimes don't get them all met." Based on his own practice and three years of clinical research, he formulated a set of 29 characteristics that he said define successful relationships. He called them the "Dimensions of Compatibility." In 2000, he founded eHarmony with his son-in-law Greg Forgatch. The site was financed with a $3 million venture round from Fayez Sarofim and individual investors.
To this day, the computer matching system that eHarmony uses to introduce its single members is based on those same core traits, which include curiosity, intellect, appearance, skills, sexual passion, attitude toward children, spirituality, values, anger management and sense of humor. In other words, the things that you probably should weigh when choosing a mate, but sometimes ignore in favor of nice hair or a great smile.
In 2004, eHarmony received the year's fourth-largest venture capital infusion from Sequoia Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures, and the service reached a milestone in 2009 as it exceeded $1 billion in cumulative revenue, according to reports. EHarmony would not disclose its revenue figures to Off The Cuff. Warren attributes some of the company's success to advertising -- commercials have made him one of the most recognizable matchmakers in the U.S .
Still, the past few years have brought increasing competition -- from subscription-based sites like EHarmony's and a growing number of free sites. Warren came out of retirement in 2012 to become CEO. "The biggest problem we have is not with competition," he told Off The Cuff. "The biggest problem we have is with people who are afraid to find the person who would be the right person for them. And you know why they're afraid of that? It's because there is no greater fear in the world than the fear of finding the person you want to be with for the rest of your life, and they don't want you. "
EHarmony claims it will help you find that special person -- if you're heterosexual, that is. In the company's early years, Warren primarily marketed to a Christian clientele, and vaunted his association with Focus on the Family, the evangelical organization founded by James Dobson. Now a secular site, eHarmony has been the target of numerous lawsuits for its refusal to match same-sex couples. In 2008, eHarmony reached a settlement with New Jersey's Civil Rights Division in a discrimination case -- the company agreed to launch a new website that would cater to same-sex couples. Compatible Partners was launched in 2009.
"I think this issue of same-sex marriage within the next five to 15 years will be no issue anymore. We've made too much of it. I'm tired of it. It has really damaged our company," Warren said, "and when the attorney general of the state of New Jersey decided that we had to put up a same-sex site and we did it out of counsel that if we didn't do it we were not going to have any business in New Jersey -- we literally had to hire guards to protect our lives because the people were so hurt and angry with us, were Christian people, who feel that it's a violation to scripture.
He continued "I have said that eHarmony really ought to put up $10 million and ask other companies to put up money and do a really first class job of figuring out homosexuality. At the very best, it's been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live. But at this point, at this age, I want America to start drawing together. I want it to be more harmonious."
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SOURCE: Yahoo! Finance