Gary Kremen

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Gary Kremen (born 1963) is an American engineer, entrepreneur and public servant who invented online dating,[1] founded the personals site, was the first registrant of and founder of Clean Power Finance, and is a board member of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Since 1993, Kremen has been a private and angel investor in over 100 companies (individually or through venture capital funds), of which several have gone public or had liquidity events.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago and raised in nearby Lincolnwood, Illinois, Kremen graduated from Niles West High School in 1981. He then graduated with bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from Northwestern University in 1985 and an MBA from Stanford University in 1989.[2][3]


Kremen launched the software firm Los Altos Technology and headed the company until late 1992.[4]

In 1993, Kremen founded Funded by private investors in November 1994, he launched the online personals service in April 1995.[4] After troubles with venture capitalists over his insistence that the company serve profitable alternative market segments including the LGBT market, he left in March 1996, remaining on the board. Over Kremen's objections, was sold to Cendant Corporation for $7 million in 1998[4] and sold by Cendant to Ticketmaster a year and a half later for $50 million.[5]

From 1995 to 1996, Kremen co-founded and served as president of, Inc., an Internet profiling and personalization company[3] that suggested web sites to users. It merged with Firefly Networks, and then was sold to Microsoft.[6]

In 1999, Kremen was listed as an equity-holding officer or director of Brightcube, Inc.[3] The same year, he sold for $500,000.[7][8]

Kremen is credited as a primary inventor on a 1995-filed patent for dynamic web pages, US patent number 5,706,434,[9] which he later sold for over $1,000,000.[10] Additionally, Kremen holds two other patents in financial-related systems management: US patent number 7,698,219[11] and US patent number 7,890,436.[12] and a patent for verifying employment online: United States Patent number 8,533,110.[13]

A 2007 New York Times article on "millionaires who don't feel rich" reported that Kremen estimated his net worth at $10 million.[14]

Kremen is the founder of residential solar financing start-up Clean Power Finance, Inc., which raised $6.9 million from investors in January 2010,[15] $25 million from Kleiner Perkins, $75 million from Google[16] in September 2011,[17] and $62 million from other investors.[18][19]

He was also founder and chairman of Sociogramics, a financial services company that focuses on bringing credit to the underbanked, having raised seed capital from Tugboat Ventures, Harmony Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, Greylock Partners, Claremont Creek Ventures, and QED Investors.[20]

Kremen is the founding investor and a board member of CrowdFlower,[21] WaterSmart Software[22] and CapGain Solutions [23] as well as involved with local non-profit organizations.[24] He is also a co-founder of Menlo Incubator, which is an early-stage startup program that focuses heavily on mentorship[25][26] and Cross Coin Ventures. On February 24, 2014, Identive Group appointed him a member of the Board of Directors.[27] He is a University of California, Merced foundation board member.[28]

He was an elected board member and president of the Purissima Hills Water District[29] from 2010-2014. Kremen was appointed to the Proposition 39 Citizens Oversight Board by California State Controller John Chiang in January 2014.[30] Kremen was elected to the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the 2014 election.[31] On January 13, 2015, the Board elected him as the 2015 Board Chair. He was re-elected in 2018. Kremen is also a board member of the Saline Preservation Association and is currently the chairperson of the Delta Conveyance Finance Authority. legal case[edit]

Kremen first registered the domain name in 1994[32] as well as,, and In 1996, Stephen M. Cohen contacted Network Solutions and fraudulently had the domain transferred to his name. Kremen sued Cohen for the return of the domain name. As Cohen had profited from while assigned to him, Kremen was awarded a judgment of $65 million against Cohen. Cohen fled to Mexico and moved the money offshore. Kremen obtained Cohen's Rancho Santa Fe mansion, to which he relocated after the court case resolved. In 2003, Kremen successfully litigated against Network Solutions.[33][34] On October 28, 2005, the Los Angeles Times reported Cohen had been arrested in Mexico and turned over to US authorities.[35] Kremen sold in 2006 to Boston-based Escom LLC for $15 million in cash and stock, and sold for $454,500 later that year.[36][37][38]


  1. ^ Kushner, David. The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise. Simon & Schuster.
  2. ^ Showley, Roger M. Web site founder adjusts to life in Rancho Santa Fe Archived 2006-08-12 at the Wayback Machine., 2004-05-24. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  3. ^ a b c Brightcube Inc, 10SB12G, On 7/13/99, 1999-07-13. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  4. ^ a b c Angwin, Julia. "Love's labor lost: Online matchmaker still seeks love, money." San Francisco Chronicle, via, 1998-02-12. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
  5. ^ O'Brien, Chris. "The Prisoner of" Wired, via, August 2003. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
  6. ^ "Microsoft Signs Definitive Agreement To Acquire Privacy Technology Leader Firefly Network". Stories. April 9, 1998.
  7. ^ "Welcome -".
  8. ^ "Wayback Machine". August 1, 1999. {{cite web}}: |archive-url= is malformed: flag (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ United States Patent 5706434 United States Patent and Trademark Office, 1998-01-06. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  10. ^ "Mike Ford".
  11. ^ United States Patent number 7,698,219 Issued April 13, 2010: Methods, systems and agreements for increasing the likelihood of repayments under a financing agreement for renewable energy equipment.
  12. ^ United States Patent number 7,890,436 Issued February 15, 2011: Billing and payment methods and systems enabling consumer premises equipment
  13. ^ "United States Patent: 8533110 - Methods and apparatus for verifying employment via online data".
  14. ^ Rivlin, Gary (2007-08-05). "In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Don't Feel Rich". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  15. ^ [1] Greentech Media, Retrieved on 2009-01-05
  16. ^ [2] Google invests $75M into Clean Power Finance solar fund
  17. ^ [3] Google Invests $75 Million in Home Solar Venture
  18. ^ Rebecca Grant (April 8, 2013). "Clean Power Finance drinks $37M to cure 'solar hardware hangovers'". VentureBeat.
  19. ^ Diane Cardwell (April 8, 2013). "Clean Power Finance Raises $37 Million". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Lora Kolodny (February 24, 2012). "Gary Kremen's New Venture, Sociogramics, Wants To Make Banking Human Again". The Wall Street Journal.
  21. ^ Anthony Ha (March 22, 2012). "CrowdFlower Co-Founder Lukas Biewald Becomes CEO (Again)". TechCrunch.
  22. ^ "WaterSmart® Closes $4.5M Series A". Business Wire. August 29, 2013.
  23. ^ "CapGain Solutions". AngelList. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  24. ^ Sam Liccardo and Gary Kremen (June 19, 2013). "Sam Liccardo and Gary Kremen: Netroots Nation can inspire change in San Jose where it matters most: between elections". San Jose Mercury News.
  25. ^ "WaterSmart Software Taps into Seed Funding". Physic Ventures. May 16, 2011. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013.
  26. ^ Jihn Pletz (May 7, 2013). "From sex to solar panels, founder will tell all at Northwestern". Crain's Chicago Business.
  27. ^ Joined the Board of Directors of Identiv (NASD: INVE) today
  28. ^ "UC Merced Welcomes Four New Board of Trustee Members | Newsroom".
  29. ^ "Board of Directors Gary Kremen". Purissima Hills Water District. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  30. ^ "Controller Appoints 3 Members to Board Overseeing Clean Energy Projects Act". California State Controller's Office. January 16, 2014.
  31. ^ Matt Bigler (November 6, 2014). " Founder Narrowly Wins Seat On Santa Clara Water Board". KPIX-TV.
  32. ^ Jon Swartz (February 7, 2000). "Eminent domain name". Forbes.
  33. ^ Kozinski, Alex. United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 01-15899 D.C. No. CV-98-20718-JW Opinion Findlaw, 2003-07-25. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  34. ^ "Kremen v. Cohen".
  35. ^ McCarthy, Kieren. thief arrested The Register, 2005-10-28. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  36. ^ Sold for $12M, 2006-01-24. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  37. ^ Jackson, Ron. Be Careful what You Wish For: The Continuing Saga of Gary Kremen and, March, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  38. ^ Jackson, Ron. Shines Bright After Selling for $7.5 Million in One of the Biggest Domain Deals Ever Reported, 2006-05-23. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.

Additional reading[edit]

  • David Kushner, The Players Ball. NY:Simon& Schuster, 2019 ISBN 9781501122149 (an account of the conflict between Gary Kremen and Stephen Michael Cohen for control of the internet domain

External links[edit]