|Foundation date||August 22, 2000 in Pasadena, California|
|Headquarters||Santa Monica, California|
|Alexa rank||3,280 (December 2013[update])|
eHarmony is an online dating website designed specifically to match single men and women for long-term relationships. To optimize the matching process, eHarmony operates eHarmony Labs, a relationship research facility, and publishes eHarmony Advice, a relationship advice site. eHarmony, which was launched on August 22, 2000, is based in Santa Monica, California; it has members in more than 150 countries and maintains operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. The company is privately held.
eHarmony was founded by Neil Clark Warren, a psychologist and author of relationship advice books, along with Greg Forgatch, Warren's son-in-law. In the late 1990s, after more than 35 years of work as a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor, Warren decided to test his theory that certain characteristics can predict compatibility and lead to more satisfying relationships. After three years of research in collaboration with Galen Buckwalter, Warren developed a model of compatibility that is now the basis of the company’s matching system.
The service was financed with a $3 million investment from Fayez Sarofim & Co. and individual investors. In 2004, eHarmony received the fourth largest venture capital infusion of that year from Sequoia Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures. With its subscription model, the service has been profitable since then and reached a milestone in 2009 as it exceeded $1.0 billion in cumulative revenue.
The service launched its matching service for singles in 2000. Since then, the company has had about 33 million members, and, as of 2008, about 15,000 people take the eHarmony questionnaire each day. After finding a match on eHarmony, Harris Interactive states that an average of 542 eHarmony members in the United States marry every day. With 14 percent of the U.S. dating-services market, the company trails only IAC/InterActiveCorp, parent of Match.com, which has 24 percent, according to industry researcher IBISWorld.
Over the last three years, new memberships, retention rates and time spent on the site decreased, primarily due to increased competition. In July 2012, the 78-year-old eHarmony founder came out of retirement to become chief executive. Warren closed unprofitable international operations, switched advertisers, made changes to the board, and bought back stock from Sequoia Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures. His biggest move, however, will be expanding the brand to include more than just online matchmaking, making it a broad "relationship site" that includes services to help users make new friends, find the right job, become better parents, cope with aging and solve interpersonal problems.
eHarmony advertises that compatibility is the core tenet at eHarmony. Former CEO Greg Waldorf stated, “It's not about matching people who like certain hobbies ... it's about compatibility. You go on to the site and tell us about you, rather than about what you want." eHarmony seeks to differentiate its matching service by what it calls a scientific approach to a deeply personal and emotional process.
Prospective eHarmony members complete a proprietary questionnaire about their characteristics, beliefs, values, emotional health and skills. Matching algorithms, the basis of the matching system Warren and Buckwalter developed, which the company believes matches people's core traits and values to replicate the traits of happy couples, use these answers to match members with compatible users.
A new, complex software technology not only evaluates the answers to the questionnaire but also each user's behavioral data such as average time spent on the site. The software analyzes 500 variables to further optimize the matches and, as a result, there has been a 34% increase in communication between users in the past year.[when?] Buckwalter says that the compatibility system rests a lot on commonality, for their belief is that "Opposites attract, then they attack." 
In 2004, Steve Carter, eHarmony's Vice President of Matching, presented a paper at the 16th Annual American Psychological Society (APS) meeting. In the paper presented, Carter compared eHarmony couples married for more than five years with a control group, using the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS), as a measure of couple satisfaction. His results showed that "over 90% of eHarmony couples had marriage quality scores which were above average when compared to couples who had begun their relationships elsewhere. eHarmony couples were more than twice as likely to be in highly successful marriages than non-eHarmony couples. Not only are eHarmony couples 35% more likely than other married couples to report that they enjoy spending time together, but we found they are nearly twice as likely to report that their marriages are 'extremely happy' or better versus other recently married couples." It should be noted that the study provided no data on the eHarmony failure rate for comparison. No independent studies of eHarmony's methods or success rates have been published.
Current board of directors
- Neil Clark Warren, Co-founder and CEO
- Greg Penner, General Partner at Madrone Capital Partners
- Neil Clark Warren, Co-founder and CEO
Reception and analysis
After answering a 258-question profile, some would-be customers are frustrated when they are not accepted for the matching process. About one in five people are not suitable for the service for reasons including that the user is currently married or has been married more than four times, is under the minimum age of 21, provides inconsistent answers in the profile, or fails its "dysthymia scale."
Initially eHarmony did not offer same-sex matches, but now it does through its separate service, Compatible Partners. Warren originally explained that he had done extensive research on heterosexual marriage but does not know enough about homosexual relationships to do same-sex match-making which "calls for some very careful thinking. Very careful research." He also noted that eHarmony promotes heterosexual marriage, adding that same-sex marriage is illegal in most states, "We don't really want to participate in something that's illegal." In a separate interview, Warren went into more detail on his own views, noting that "cities like San Francisco, Chicago or New York... they could shut [eHarmony] down so fast. We don't want to make enemies out of them. But at the same time, I take a real strong stand against same-sex marriage, anywhere that I can comment on it."
eHarmony's lack of same-sex matching options prompted lawsuits claiming that eHarmony violated laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. As part of the settlement of a New Jersey case, eHarmony launched a partner website called Compatible Partners providing same-sex match-making "for serious couples" Theodore B. Olson, an attorney for eHarmony, said that even though the company believed the complaint was "an unfair characterization of our business," it chose to settle because of the unpredictable nature of litigation. In 2010, eHarmony settled a separate class-action lawsuit filed in California that alleged illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation. The company, which did not admit wrongdoing, agreed to allow access to both its gay and straight dating sites with a single subscription, to display its gay dating services more prominently and to establish a settlement fund to pay people who can show they were harmed by the company's policies.
Compatible Partners has attracted over 200,000 registrants. Michelle Garcia, writing in the LGBT-interest magazine, The Advocate, also notes that, like eHarmony, Compatible Partners attracts high-quality customers. According to Garcia, "Because of the price tag and the emphasis on long-term relationships... Compatible Partners' users are seen as quite desirable." 
Matching paying members with non-paying members
After approval by the questionnaire, eHarmony begins to match members regardless of their subscription status. A member's list of matches does not indicate which members are paying or non-paying but, as of March 1, 2012, it shows the last time the person logged on to eHarmony.
On June 6, 2012, eHarmony confirmed that its password database had been breached and a section of its user base had been affected. Affected members were sent e-mails by the company requesting them to change their password immediately.
Satoshi Kanazawa thinks that part of the success of eHarmony can be explained by the high cost of entry in terms of time required to fulfill the initial questionnaire—over 18 hours, but other sources put the time to complete the relationship questionnaire at approximately one hour. Using Laurence Iannaccone's original idea that success of fundamentalist churches is explained by the high demands imposed on their members, Kanazawa hypothesizes that a similar self-selection mechanism is at work with eHarmony: "they select their members very carefully, and only admit those who are very committed (or desperate; if anyone who chooses to join eHarmony is truly desperate to get married, then it can potentially and partially explain why it produces such a high proportion of all marriages in the US)." Another factor suggested by Dan Ariely is the limited choice of partners offered, which may make the decision easier for some.
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- [dead link]
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