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Gary Kremen

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Gary Kremen (born 20 September 1963[1]) is an American engineer, entrepreneur and politician who founded the personals site Match.com, was the first registrant of Sex.com and founder of Clean Power Finance, and was a board member of the Santa Clara Valley Water District from 2014 through 2022. Since 1993, Kremen has been a private and angel investor in over 100 companies (individually or through venture capital funds), of which several have gone public or had liquidity events.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago and raised in a Jewish household[2] in nearby Lincolnwood, Illinois, Kremen graduated from Niles West High School in 1981. He then graduated with bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from Northwestern University in 1985 and an MBA from Stanford University in 1989.[3][4]

Business career[edit]

Kremen launched the software firm Los Altos Technology and headed the company until late 1992.[5]

In 1993, Kremen founded Match.com. Funded by private investors in November 1994, he launched the online personals service Match.com in April 1995.[5] After troubles with venture capitalists over his insistence that the company serve profitable alternative market segments including the LGBT market, he left Match.com in March 1996, remaining on the board. Over Kremen's objections, Match.com was sold to Cendant Corporation for $7 million in 1998[5] and sold by Cendant to Ticketmaster a year and a half later for $50 million.[6]

From 1995 to 1996, Kremen co-founded and served as president of NetAngels.com, Inc., an Internet profiling and personalization company[4] that suggested web sites to users. It merged with Firefly Networks, and then was sold to Microsoft.[7]

In 1999, Kremen was listed as an equity-holding officer or director of Brightcube, Inc.[4] The same year, he sold Computer.com for $500,000.[1][8]

Kremen is credited as a primary inventor on a 1995-filed patent for dynamic web pages, US patent number 5,706,434,[9] which he later sold for over $1,000,000.[10] Additionally, Kremen holds two other patents in financial-related systems management: US patent number 7,698,219[11] and US patent number 7,890,436.[12] and a patent for verifying employment online: United States Patent number 8,533,110.[13]

A 2007 New York Times article on "millionaires who don't feel rich" reported that Kremen estimated his net worth at $10 million.[14]

Kremen is the founder of residential solar financing start-up Clean Power Finance, Inc., which raised $6.9 million from investors in January 2010,[15] $25 million from Kleiner Perkins, $75 million from Google[16] in September 2011,[17] and $62 million from other investors.[18][19]

He was also founder and chairman of Sociogramics, a financial services company that focuses on bringing credit to the underbanked, having raised seed capital from Tugboat Ventures, Harmony Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, Greylock Partners, Claremont Creek Ventures, and QED Investors.[20]

Kremen is the founding investor and a board member of CrowdFlower,[21] WaterSmart Software[22] and CapGain Solutions [23] as well as involved with local non-profit organizations.[24] He is also a co-founder of Menlo Incubator, which is an early-stage startup program that focuses heavily on mentorship[25][26] and Cross Coin Ventures. On February 24, 2014, Identiv appointed him a member of the Board of Directors.[27]

Kremen is a University of California, Merced foundation board member.[28] He is also a board member of the nonprofit Saline Preservation Association.

Political career[edit]

Kremen was an elected board member and president of the local Purissima Hills Water District[29] from 2010-2014. Kremen's romantic partner Essy Stone now serves on that board.[30] Kremen was appointed to the Proposition 39 Citizens Oversight Board by California State Controller John Chiang in January 2014.[31]

Kremen was elected to the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the 2014 election, after spending $479,000 on the election for a job that paid $53,626.74, described as "stunning...for a water board election".[32][33][34] On January 13, 2015, the Board elected him as the 2015 Board Chair. He was re-elected in 2018 after spending only about $10,000 on his campaign.[35] In 2022, he cast a key vote in a 4-3 decision to put a "deliberately misleading" initiative on the ballot, which claimed to be imposing term limits on the Water Board, but which actually lengthened the existing (and unmentioned) term limits. The vote cost the water board's taxpayers $3.2 million dollars, and barely passed with 50.56% of the public vote. This initiative extended Kremen's own term as well as the terms of board members who had been there for 26 and 22 years, with salaries and benefits up to $79,000 per year for the part-time job.[36][37]

Kremen was at some point appointed by the Water Board to The Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Joint Powers Authority.[citation needed]

He ran for the political job of Santa Clara County Assessor in 2021 and 2022, seeking to unseat 27-year incumbent Larry Stone. After contributing $170,000 of his own money, and raising another $71,000 from others, he dropped his campaign in February 2022 after getting into conflict with a campaign staffer, who resigned and took her complaints public.[38] He asked a staffer to sift through a large photo dump, looking for photos useful to the campaign, but the staffer stopped and was outraged when she saw pictures which included Kremen's breastfeeding romantic partner with one breast visible. The partner, Essy Stone, reportedly said, "He was just being careless, there’s nothing malicious about it."[32] But there were other accusations, including bullying, campaigning as a nonprofit, and a threat to harm a Democratic club that planned a Middle East resolution that Kremen opposed. Multiple local politicians rapidly and publicly called on Kremen to step down, leading to him ending the campaign.[39] In addition, the resulting attention revealed 11 internal complaints from Water Board employees, causing Kremen to step down as Water Board Chair, while retaining his board seat.[40] An internal investigation followed.[41][42]

Sex.com legal case[edit]

Kremen first registered the domain name sex.com in 1994[43] as well as jobs.com, housing.com, and autos.com. In 1995, Stephen M. Cohen contacted Network Solutions and fraudulently had the domain transferred to his name. Kremen sued Cohen for the return of the sex.com domain name. As Cohen had profited from sex.com while assigned to him, Kremen was awarded a judgment of $65 million against Cohen. Cohen fled to Mexico and moved the money offshore. Kremen obtained Cohen's Rancho Santa Fe mansion, to which he relocated after the court case resolved. In 2003, Kremen successfully litigated against Network Solutions.[44][45] On October 28, 2005, the Los Angeles Times reported Cohen had been arrested in Mexico and turned over to US authorities.[46] Kremen sold sex.com in 2006 to Boston-based Escom LLC for $15 million in cash and stock, and sold sex.net for $454,500 later that year.[47][48][49]


  1. ^ a b Kieren McCarthy. "Gary Kremen - The Brutal Battle for Sex.com". www.sexdotcom.com. Archived from the original on 2010-10-26. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  2. ^ From Sex.com to Clean and Green, Forward
  3. ^ Showley, Roger M. Web site founder adjusts to life in Rancho Santa Fe Archived 2006-08-12 at the Wayback Machine. SignOnSanDiego.com, 2004-05-24. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  4. ^ a b c Brightcube Inc, 10SB12G, On 7/13/99 SECInfo.com, 1999-07-13. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  5. ^ a b c Angwin, Julia. "Love's labor lost: Online matchmaker still seeks love, money." San Francisco Chronicle, via sfgate.com, 1998-02-12. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
  6. ^ O'Brien, Chris. "The Prisoner of Sex.com." Wired, via wired.com, August 2003. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
  7. ^ "Microsoft Signs Definitive Agreement To Acquire Privacy Technology Leader Firefly Network". Stories. April 9, 1998.
  8. ^ "Computer.com homepage offers it for sale". Computer.com. August 1, 1999. Archived from the original on 1999-02-08.
  9. ^ United States Patent 5706434 United States Patent and Trademark Office, 1998-01-06. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  10. ^ "Mike Ford". www.mikeford.com.
  11. ^ United States Patent number 7,698,219 Issued April 13, 2010: Methods, systems and agreements for increasing the likelihood of repayments under a financing agreement for renewable energy equipment.
  12. ^ United States Patent number 7,890,436 Issued February 15, 2011: Billing and payment methods and systems enabling consumer premises equipment
  13. ^ "United States Patent: 8533110 - Methods and apparatus for verifying employment via online data".
  14. ^ Rivlin, Gary (2007-08-05). "In Silicon Valley, Millionaires Who Don't Feel Rich". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  15. ^ [1] Greentech Media, Retrieved on 2009-01-05
  16. ^ [2] Google invests $75M into Clean Power Finance solar fund
  17. ^ [3] Google Invests $75 Million in Home Solar Venture
  18. ^ Rebecca Grant (April 8, 2013). "Clean Power Finance drinks $37M to cure 'solar hardware hangovers'". VentureBeat.
  19. ^ Diane Cardwell (April 8, 2013). "Clean Power Finance Raises $37 Million". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Lora Kolodny (February 24, 2012). "Gary Kremen's New Venture, Sociogramics, Wants To Make Banking Human Again". The Wall Street Journal.
  21. ^ Anthony Ha (March 22, 2012). "CrowdFlower Co-Founder Lukas Biewald Becomes CEO (Again)". TechCrunch.
  22. ^ "WaterSmart® Closes $4.5M Series A". Business Wire. August 29, 2013.
  23. ^ "CapGain Solutions". AngelList. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  24. ^ Sam Liccardo and Gary Kremen (June 19, 2013). "Sam Liccardo and Gary Kremen: Netroots Nation can inspire change in San Jose where it matters most: between elections". San Jose Mercury News.
  25. ^ "WaterSmart Software Taps into Seed Funding". Physic Ventures. May 16, 2011. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013.
  26. ^ Jihn Pletz (May 7, 2013). "From sex to solar panels, Match.com founder will tell all at Northwestern". Crain's Chicago Business.
  27. ^ "Gary Kremen Joins Board as Identiv Positions for Growth" (Press release). 2014-02-24.
  28. ^ "UC Merced Welcomes Four New Board of Trustee Members | Newsroom". news.ucmerced.edu.
  29. ^ "Board of Directors Gary Kremen". Purissima Hills Water District. Archived from the original on 2014-05-04. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  30. ^ "Purissima Hills Water District Board". Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  31. ^ "Controller Appoints 3 Members to Board Overseeing Clean Energy Projects Act". California State Controller's Office. January 16, 2014.
  32. ^ a b Eli Wolfe (February 26, 2022). "San Jose politician accused of sharing nude photos". San Jose Spotlight. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  33. ^ Matt Bigler (November 6, 2014). "Match.com Founder Narrowly Wins Seat On Santa Clara Water Board". KPIX-TV.
  34. ^ "California Form 460 for Gary Kremen for Water District 2014". 2017-08-10. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  35. ^ "California Form 460 for Gary Kremen for Water District 2018". 2018-12-05. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  36. ^ Paul Rogers (2022-07-15). "Santa Clara County voters OK term limits measure criticized as misleading". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  37. ^ "Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Members (salaries)". Transparent California. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  38. ^ "Kremen Drops Out of Assessor Race after Accusations of Sexual Harassment". San Jose Inside. February 28, 2022. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  39. ^ Eli Wolfe (February 28, 2022). "Calls intensify for Silicon Valley's Gary Kremen to resign". San Jose Spotlight. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  40. ^ Eli Wolfe (March 15, 2022). "San Jose water board member sees internal complaints surface". San Jose Spotlight. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  41. ^ Eli Wolfe (March 22, 2022). "Santa Clara County water district sets scope of harassment investigation". San Jose Spotlight. Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  42. ^ Eli Wolfe (June 22, 2022). "Investigation into Silicon Valley water director trudges along". Retrieved 2022-07-16.
  43. ^ Jon Swartz (February 7, 2000). "Eminent domain name". Forbes.
  44. ^ Kozinski, Alex. United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, No. 01-15899 D.C. No. CV-98-20718-JW Opinion Findlaw, 2003-07-25. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  45. ^ "Kremen v. Cohen". www.issuesininternetlaw.com.
  46. ^ McCarthy, Kieren. Sex.com thief arrested The Register, 2005-10-28. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  47. ^ Sex.com Sold for $12M Foxnews.com, 2006-01-24. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  48. ^ Jackson, Ron. Be Careful what You Wish For: The Continuing Saga of Gary Kremen and Sex.com DNJournal.com, March, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.
  49. ^ Jackson, Ron. Diamond.com Shines Bright After Selling for $7.5 Million in One of the Biggest Domain Deals Ever Reported DNJournal.com, 2006-05-23. Retrieved on 2007-08-08.

Additional reading[edit]

  • David Kushner, The Players Ball. NY:Simon& Schuster, 2019 ISBN 9781501122149 (an account of the conflict between Gary Kremen and Stephen Michael Cohen for control of the internet domain sex.com).

External links[edit]