Re-EngagedINTERVIEW" Neil Clark Warren didn’t let his age stop him from retaking the reins at dating site eHarmony. Monday, November 4, 2013
How have things been since you’ve returned?
Well, first of all, this last year has been the greatest single year of my life. I have loved it. And in a way it was very painful. We asked seven of our nine board members to resign. That was hard. They were all good people but we needed to be able to move faster. At one point, we had 320 employees; we now have 170.
Was that hard for you?
I came back into this office and I was lonely at first. I didn’t know a lot of these people. We started building our own staff. Fourteen people are on our executive committee and all those people are new. We essentially started over again with people more aligned with our mission. We now have a group of people who get along extremely well.
How do you feel about the business one year after returning?
We’re growing at a rate of between 20,000 and 30,000 new end-of-period subscribers a month. We’ve really grown it back up. We’ve gotten big again. We think we will have some stellar years.
EHarmony has announced that it wants to expand beyond romantic relationships. Why?
We realized that if we could make romantic relationships work, people are happier in their work. But people are lonelier than ever before. You can’t make your marriage work if you are unhappy in your work. We’ve got to help people get into the right job. We have a team to build algorithms to allow people to get into the right job.
You recently spoke about how eHarmony’s policy on gay marriage hurt your business. How so?
I hate talking about that because you can’t win. We were required by the state of New Jersey to put up a same-sex site and we did. I had never had a gay or lesbian couple in therapy in my years, so that was a little bit difficult. We’ve had a bunch of marriages, but we lost a lot of Christians. It became big news because we were known, because of my background, as a Christian site. We want every relationship to be great. We know that it’s a very tense issue nationally. But I honestly think it’s going away.
How long have you and your wife been married?
How did you meet?
We met at Pepperdine. Marylyn is a regent at Pepperdine. She also works here. She’s vice president of business solutions, which is funny because if she had all the solutions, none of the rest of us would be needed. She’s here every day.