Neil Clark Warren Steps Down as eHarmony’s CEO

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Dr. Neil Clark Warren

It's the end of an era. Los Angeles-based dating site eHarmony has announced that Neil Clark Warren - co-founder and star of the company's television ads – will retire as chief executive officer. He will remain as chairman, and longtime Vice President Grant Langston will take over as CEO.

Langston joined eHarmony in 2000 in preparation for the launch of the original site. Prior to that, he spent ten years in advertising and music marketing. In his role with eHarmony, Langston focused on the company's marketing efforts, customer care, content creation, social media, and product launches.

eHarmony board Director Jamie McJunkin said Langston “is a natural choice to succeed Dr. Warren as CEO as he has been at his side since the inception of the company. His level of experience in the field of online dating is unparalleled and we are pleased to elevate him to this position.”

As for Warren, he called Langston “a guiding influence for the company” and said he “understands this space better than anyone else in the industry.” Langston “has an intuitive understanding of the business itself as well as the position of the unique eHarmony brand,” Warren continued, “and I am confident that under his leadership, eHarmony will continue to grow market share and hold its position as an industry leader.”

Oddly enough, this isn't the first time Warren has stepped down. He initially retired in 2007, but came back in 2012 to spearhead a new direction for the company when business struggled in his absence. Under Warren's second leadership term, eHarmony refocused on matching couples who were interested in marriage and healed its image following a 2005 lawsuit for discrimination against same-sex couples.

The company settled the suit in 2009 and created Compatible Partners for gay and lesbian singles. "We've suffered from the contentiousness of that topic," Warren, an evangelical Christian, told CNNMoney earlier this year. “We didn't want to pretend to be experts on gay and lesbian couples. We're not anti-gay at all ... it's a different match."

He does, however, say that Compatible Partners has led to "quite of a number of same-sex marriages."

Relationships aren't the only thing on eHarmony's mind lately. The leadership change comes not long after the company began expanding its matchmaking service to other areas. eHarmony launched Elevated Careers in April to help employers and job seekers find each other, hoping to apply its matchmaking expertise to a new field.

With any luck, Langston will be a similarly good match for eHarmony, though he acknowledges that he has big shoes to fill.

“Dr. Warren founded eHarmony, pioneering the process of compatibility-based matching which has kept eHarmony as the leader in this space throughout its 16 years,” said Langston. “Dr. Warren’s 40 years of counseling and experience as a psychologist and counselor informed a process that even today remains unique to online dating. That process has brought together literally millions of couples in pursuit of meaningful relationships and we will continue to build on the foundation and accelerate the growth of the company as we move to a mobile-first platform.”