Sam Yagan

CEO, ShopRunner // Chicago Ventures EP

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Sam Yagan is CEO of ShopRunner, and the former Vice-Chairman of Match Group (Nasdaq: MTCH), a position he assumed after serving as the company’s Chief Executive Officer and leading it through a period of explosive growth that culminated in its IPO. He has co-founded several companies, including SparkNotes, eDonkey, OkCupid, Techstars Chicago, and, Firestarter Fund, & Corazon Capital.

Sam has been a leader in the dating industry since he co-founded OkCupid in 2003 and grew it into one of the most popular dating products in America, amassing over four million active users. OkCupid has earned widespread media acclaim and has been described as “the Google of online dating” and where “dating meets Facebook.” In 2011, Match, Inc. acquired OkCupid for $90 million.

Sam’s prior entrepreneurial ventures in the consumer internet sector include SparkNotes (founded in 1999), still the dominant brand of study guides and eDonkey (founded in 2002), once the largest P2P file-sharing network in the world. He sold SparkNotes to Barnes & Noble, Inc., where he served as Vice-President and Publisher and oversaw the expansion of the previously all-digital brand into an expansive multi-platform media business.

Outside of work, Sam’s primary passion is working with early-stage entrepreneurs. In 2009, he co-founded Excelerate Labs (now TechStars Chicago), a leading start-up accelerator, and served as its first Chief Executive Officer. In 2014, Sam founded Corazon Capital, a small angel fund; he sits on the board of several start-ups, including ShiftGig, SpotHero, Roniin, & Brilliant. He also advises several venture capital funds, including Hyde Park Venture Partners and the FireStarter Fund, which he co-founded. He serves on Target Corp’s Digital Advisory Council and the Stanford Graduate School of Business Management Board.

Sam has been named to TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40,” Crain’s Chicago “40 Under 40”, Billboard Magazine’s “30 Under 30,” Crain’s “Tech 25,” D Magazine’s “Dallas 500” and ranked #19 on Silicon Alley Insider’s “Most Inspiring and Influential People.” He has received the Chicago Innovation Awards’ “Visionary of the Year Award,” IMSA’s “Distinguished Leadership Award,” and the DCIA’s “Pioneer’s Award.” Sam has testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and has spoken at the CATO Institute, Digital Hollywood, IRCE, the Federal Trade Commission, and numerous other industry events.

Sam has a BA with honors in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Harvard College and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he earned distinction as a Siebel Scholar, an Arjay Miller Scholar, and the Henry Ford Scholar, the award granted to each class’s valedictorian.

Sam Yagan