eHarmony

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eharmony.com
Eharmony new logo.jpg
Type of businessPrivate
FoundedAugust 22, 2000 (2000-08-22)
Pasadena, California, U.S.
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Key peopleNeil Clark Warren (Founder)
Greg Forgatch (Founder)
Grant Langston (CEO)
Websitewww.eharmony.com
Alexa rankNegative increase 2,220 (August 2017)[1]
LaunchedAugust 22, 2000; 18 years ago (2000-08-22)
Previous eharmony headquarters in the OneWest Bank building in downtown Pasadena

eharmony is an online dating website. It was launched on August 22, 2000, and is based in Los Angeles, California. The company is privately held. Large investors include Sequoia Capital and Technology Cross Ventures.[2]

History[edit]

eharmony's original logo, used until August 20, 2017.

eharmony was founded by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist, with his son-in-law.[3] Warren and his son-in-law created Neil Clark Warren & Associates, a seminar company, in 1995.[3] That company eventually became the dating website eharmony.[3]

The service was financed with a $3 million investment from Fayez Sarofim & Co. and individual investors.[4] eharmony was launched in 2000, making it the first algorithm-based dating site.[5][6] Between 2000 and 2010, about 33 million members used the service.[7] As of 2008, about 15,000 people were taking the eharmony questionnaire each day.[8] Harris Interactive said in 2010 that after finding a match on eharmony, an average of 542 eharmony members in the United States marry every day.[9]

eharmony has been profitable since 2004.[10] In 2009, eharmony's cumulative revenue exceeded $1.0 billion while their annual revenue was about $250 million.[11][10] As of 2012, eharmony had 14 percent of the U.S. dating-services market.[12]

During 2009–12, new memberships, retention rates and time spent on the site decreased. In July 2012, Neil Clark Warren came out of retirement to become chief executive officer. Warren closed unprofitable international operations, switched advertisers, made changes to the board,[13] and bought back stock from Sequoia Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures.[12] In 2017, it was reported that eharmony had about 750,000 paid subscribers and 10 million active users, which was about the same as it had been in 2012.[14] Warren left the company again in July 2016.[3]

In 2016, eharmony announced their questionnaire would now be optional for users.[15] By 2017, the questionnaire consisted of 150 questions, down from 450 questions.[16]

Methodology[edit]

Prospective members complete a proprietary questionnaire about their characteristics, beliefs, values, emotional health and skills. Matching algorithms, which the company believes match people's core traits and values to replicate the traits of happy couples, use these answers to match members with users the company believes will be compatible.[17] The software technology also evaluates users' behavioral data such as average time spent on the site.[18]

Buckwalter says that the compatibility system rests a lot on commonality, for their belief is that "Opposites attract, then they attack."[19]

Starting in January 2017, eharmony users could see why they are considered compatible with a feature called "The Two Of You Together". They will be able to see the matches who score at an advanced level of compatibility and also why.[20]

Reception and analysis[edit]

Rejection rates and reasons[edit]

It is estimated that about 20% of eharmony applicants are rejected.[21] In 2007, eharmony stated since the site's launch, they had rejected about a million people who applied to use the service. They reported that about 30% of those applicants were denied because they were already married, 27% were younger than the minimum application age of 21, and 9% provided inconsistent answers on the application. eharmony also stated they reject anyone under the age of 60 who has been married more than four times or fails their "dysthymia scale."[22]

Same-sex couples[edit]

When it began, eharmony did not offer same-sex matches; it now offers them through a separate service, Compatible Partners.[23] Warren said that he had done extensive research on heterosexual marriage but did not know enough about homosexual relationships to do same-sex match-making, which he said "calls for some very careful thinking. Very careful research."[23] He also said that eharmony promotes heterosexual marriage, adding that (at the time) same-sex marriage was illegal in most places, saying "We don't really want to participate in something that's illegal."[23] In another 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."[24]

eharmony's lack of same-sex matching options prompted lawsuits claiming that eharmony violated laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[25] As part of the settlement of a New Jersey case,[26] eharmony launched a partner website called Compatible Partners providing match-making "for men and women looking for a serious same-sex relationship".[27][28] 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.[29] 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.[30][31]

As of 2013, about 200,000 people had registered with Compatible Partners.[32] Michelle Garcia, writing in the LGBT-interest magazine, The Advocate, also said 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." [32]

Matching paying members with non-paying members[edit]

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, so users may not be able to communicate with all of their matches.[33]

Security breach[edit]

On June 6, 2012, eharmony confirmed that its password database had been breached and a section of its user base had been affected.[34][35] Affected members were sent e-mails by the company requesting them to change their password immediately.[36]

Explaining success[edit]

A 2010 article published by the Harvard Business Review attributed the success of eharmony's system to their large membership base, their efforts to exclude people who are not serious about dating, and their membership fees being more expensive than the fees for other dating websites. The author hypothesizes that, since eharmony's questionnaire and high cost of membership deter people who are interested in casual dating, eharmony's members are more likely to be interested in a long-term relationship.[37]

Criticism over claims[edit]

A 2012 analysis of dating websites by Scientific American stated that eharmony, along with other algorithm-based dating sites, had not yet provided members of the scientific community with information about their matching algorithm which could be used to vet their claims about their algorithms being scientifically-based.[6]

In 2014, eharmony was criticized by the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau over claims the company had made about their rates of success.[38]

In 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority stated that an eharmony ad which included the lines, "It's time science had a go at love," and "Imagine being able to stack the odds of finding lasting love entirely in your favor," was misleading. When the ASA asked for evidence supporting eharmony's claims that their scientifically proven matching system increases the odds of finding love, eharmony was not able to provide any.[39]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "eharmony.com Traffic Statistics". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  2. ^ Levy, Ari. "EHarmony Founder Breaks Up With Investors to Reboot". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2015-10-23.
  3. ^ a b c d Utermohlen, Karl (26 July 2016). "eHarmony Founder Neil Clark Warren Steps Down as CEO". InvestorPlace. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  4. ^ "History of eHarmony". Online Dating Magazine. 2008-09-16.
  5. ^ "History of eHarmony". Online Dating Magazine. 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2008-09-19.
  6. ^ a b Eli J. Finkel, Susan Sprecher (8 May 2012). "The Scientific Flaws of Online Dating Sites". Scientific American. Scientific American. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Dating Site Marks 10 Years With Ad Campaign". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  8. ^ Kirkpatrick, David (2007-09-14). "eHarmony does what tech ought to do". CNN. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  9. ^ "eHarmony Celebrates 10 Years of Online Relationships | Fox Business Video". Video.foxbusiness.com. 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  10. ^ a b Clark, Andrew (24 August 2010). "Dating site eHarmony aims to dominate British market". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  11. ^ Geron, Tomio (2010-07-12). "The $100M Revenue Club: EHarmony Captures the Hearts of VCs". The Wall Street Journal's Venture Capital Dispatch.
  12. ^ a b "eHarmony founder breaks up with investors in company reboot". Delawareonline.com. Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  13. ^ "EHarmony founder has his heart set on reviving the dating site". Los Angeles Times. 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  14. ^ Weller, Chris (18 February 2017). "eHarmony is gearing up for a battle to win back millennials from Tinder and Bumble". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  15. ^ Crook, Jordan (15 December 2016). "eHarmony makes its questionnaire optional to get hip with the times". TechCrunch. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  16. ^ Marinova, Polina (14 February 2017). "How Dating Site eHarmony Uses Machine Learning to Help You Find Love". Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  17. ^ Georgina Prodhan (2008-10-07). "Brits value sex and in-laws, Web dating company finds". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  18. ^ Jessica Shambora (September 23, 2010). "eHarmony's algorithm of love". Fortune. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
  19. ^ Canning, Andrea (2008-02-13). "A Look Inside the eHarmony Love Lab". ABC News. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  20. ^ "eHarmony's New CEO Grant Langston Shares His New Vision". OnlinePersonalsWatch.com. 2016-12-23. Retrieved 2016-12-26.
  21. ^ Miller, Lisa (26 April 2008). "Belief Watch: eHarmony's Algorithm for Mr. Right". Newsweek. Newsweek. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  22. ^ Farhi, Paul (2007-05-13). "They Met Online, but Definitely Didn't Click". The Washington Post. pp. D01. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  23. ^ a b c Kornblum, Janet. "eHarmony: Heart and soul", USA Today, May 18, 2005
  24. ^ "Interview with Neil Clark Warren". Focus on the Family. Archived from the original on 2004-02-25. Retrieved 2004-03-03.
  25. ^ Egelko, Bob (2007-06-01). "EHarmony sued for excluding same-sex matches". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  26. ^ Miller, Joshua Rhett. "eHarmony to Provide Gay Dating Service after Lawsuit", Fox News, November 20, 2008
  27. ^ "How to surf the Web for a mate: eHarmony founder". CNBC. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  28. ^ "Gay Dating for Relationship-Minded Gay & Lesbian Singles". Compatible Partners. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  29. ^ "eHarmony agrees to provide same-sex matches". MSNBC. 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  30. ^ Rachel Gordon (January 27, 2010). "EHarmony settles lawsuit over gay matchmaking". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
  31. ^ Associated Press (January 27, 2010). "eHarmony Settles Gay Discrimination Suit". CBS News. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
  32. ^ a b Garcia, Michelle (2010-03-31). "The Online Dating Game". Advocate.com. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  33. ^ eHarmony? More like tone deaf 08.11.04 Joel Keller blacktable.com
  34. ^ Mills, Elinor (6 June 2012). "eHarmony member passwords compromised". CNET. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  35. ^ CBS News: eHarmony suffers password breach on heels of LinkedIn
  36. ^ "Update on Compromised Passwords". eHarmony blog. 6 June 2012. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  37. ^ Halaburda, Hanna (15 October 2010). "Fewer Customers, but the Right Ones". Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  38. ^ Gelles, Jeff (17 August 2014). "Dating site dinged for exaggerating claims of success". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  39. ^ Wakefield, Jane (3 January 2018). "Dating website eHarmony's 'scientific' match ad banned". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2018.

External links[edit]