Perfect match? Ex-eHarmony CEO joins venture capital firm

February 1, 2011, 3:59 AM UTC

Greg Waldorf

The toughest breakups are the ones you don’t see coming.

That was the case two weeks ago, when Greg Waldorf announced that he was stepping down as CEO of matchmaking site eHarmony. The move came as a surprise both inside and outside the company, where Waldorf had served as founding investor before taking the executive reins five years ago.

eHarmony immediately installed president and COO Greg Steiner as interim CEO, while the board launched a search for Waldorf’s replacement. Market-watchers wondered about the impact on a potential IPO for eHarmony, which recently has traded at a valuation of $660 million on the secondary markets.

Above all, however, people wanted to know what Waldorf was planning next. Now we know: CEO-in-residence at venture capital firm Accel Partners.

Accel announced the hire this morning, saying that Waldorf will work with existing Accel portfolio companies and help identify new deals. Yeah, that sounds like general venture capital work, but Accel partner Sameer Gandhi says that Waldorf will spend much of his time working with companies that are ready to significantly scale their marketing efforts (Accel has both a $500 million growth equity fund and a $500 million early-stage fund).

Gandhi and Waldorf go way back, having been business school classmates at Stanford. Gandhi then invested in eHarmony while he was working at Sequoia Capital, and the pair currently sit together on the board of real estate startup Trulia.

Unfortunately, Gandhi is very good at staying on message. He declined to discuss Waldorf’s departure from eHarmony, and Waldorf has not yet returned my request for comment. So, some wild speculation: eHarmony is planning to file soon for an IPO, but Waldorf realized that a post-filing resignation could significantly complicate the process. So he stepped down now, so that the company could get its longterm management in order.

Will be interesting to see how long Waldorf stays at Accel, and where he might land next. One of the firm’s former CEOs-in-residence left to run an Accel portfolio company (Dick Williams of WebRoot), while others went elsewhere (like  Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn).