Co-founder of eHarmony, star of its ads steps down

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LOS ANGELES — Neil Clark Warren, the wise old matchmaker of eHarmony, is stepping down as CEO.

The octogenarian psychologist who dispenses advice in eHarmony commercials is no longer chief executive officer, the company said on Tuesday. But Warren, who co-founded eHarmony in Los Angeles in 2000, will continue to serve the company as chairman.

The new CEO is Grant Langston, the vice president of brand marketing who has been with eHarmony since the beginning.

This isn’t the first time that Warren has stepped down. He retired in 2007, but came back in 2012 to “turn around” the company, which was sued in 2005 for discrimination of same-sex couples.

The company settled the suit in 2009 when it launched Compatible Partners, a site for gay and lesbian singles. But then 350,000 members ditched the company.

“We’ve suffered from the contentiousness of that topic,” the 81-year-old evangelical Christian said 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.”

In fact, he said Compatible Partners has led to “quite of a number of same-sex marriages.”

Warren has pitched eHarmony as a long-term relationship site that has led to 2 million marriages. The site wouldn’t release its current number of users, and while it isn’t believed to be the largest site in the dating landscape, it is believed to be a leading site for singles looking for long term relationships and marriage, as opposed to casual hook-ups.

Marriage has certainly been the central theme in eHarmony commercials, which play upon Warren’s career as a marriage counselor. He is typically depicted as a kindly grandfather figure with words of wisdom for young ladies unlucky in love.

His advice? You guessed it: Sign up for eHarmony.

Earlier this year, eHarmony branched out from relationships with its launch of Elevated Careers, a match-up site to help people find the jobs they love.