of the venture capital firms that cleaned up with an
early punt on Google is making another offbeat investment,
in online matchmaker eHarmony, writes John Sterlicchi.
Sequoia Capital, a backer of Google since 1998, has
together with other investors placed a $110 million
(Pounds 57 million) bet that eHarmony is to singles
what Google is to online search engines.
It is the fourth largest stake buy of the year and
industry watchers say the venture capitalists must reckon
a float of the business is no more than a couple of
And everyone is impressed by Sequoia's consistently
deft touch. It refused to sell about two million shares
in Google at its $85 float price.
The price has now doubled.
To join eHarmony, members must fill in a 436-item relationship
questionnaire to identify key characteristics, beliefs,
values, emotional health and skills.
The company claims six million members and is signing
up to 15,000 more each day. It is converting members
to subscribers at up to 10 times the industry average.
Its goal for 2005 is to have played a part in 100,000
Online dating is turning into one of the most lucrative
segments on the internet.