Marriage Pact secures $5 million in seed funding

Sept. 28, 2022, 11:33 p.m.

Marriage Pact, a research-based matchmaking company founded at Stanford, received $5 million in seed funding from Bain Capital Ventures and other investors. The money could scale the platform considerably, potentially leading to a larger user base and new relationship technology in the future.

Originally a Stanford economics assignment in 2017, the service grew into a nationwide phenomenon, active on more than 60 college campuses by the end of last year. The Marriage Pact closed the deal this September, joining Bain’s $10 billion portfolio of assets under management.

When Marriage Pact co-founder Liam McGregor ’20 heard Bain wanted to back his company, “it was tremendously exciting and then it was an instant whirlwind,” he said. “We’ve been talking to a number of firms and basically within a matter of days, we hammered out the final terms with Bain and wrapped up other competitions to confirm that Bain was our favorite.”

While Bain led the fundraising round, several prominent entrepreneurs and academics, including economics professors Alvin Roth M.A. ’73 Ph.D. ’74 and Paul Milgrom M.S. ’78 Ph.D. ’79, also invested. The breakdown of ownership was not disclosed to The Daily. The terms of the simple agreement for future equity were framed in a way that does not yet determine a stock price.

The Marriage Pact releases an annual survey for college students with around 50 questions designed to capture their personal convictions and life philosophy. Marriage Pact’s software then algorithmically pairs respondents to maximize their compatibility. The sixth edition of the survey is coming out this November, according to McGregor.

Roth, who recently invested in the Marriage Pact, wrote that McGregor started developing the concept as an undergraduate. At Stanford, McGregor was a student of Milgrom’s course ECON 136: “Market Design.”

“He developed a good academic background at the same time as he emerged himself in the practical rollout of the marriage pact,” Roth wrote. “He’s been learning a whole lot more as he gets his business underway.”

A number of investors in the technology space are increasingly hesitant to fund startups today, recognizing the attenuation of a 13-year bull market that has resulted in renewed skepticism toward the economic value of software. Following the surge in the share price of technology-related stocks in late 2021, many of the same stocks fell as much as 40 percent in the first half of 2022, according to the Morningstar U.S. Technology Sector Index. But for the Marriage Pact, co-founder Liam McGregor ’20 anticipates growth and expansion.

The Marriage Pact survey and matchmaking “will always be free” but paid additions to the existing services are in development, McGregor wrote to The Daily. “Ultimately, we’re building a transformative startup in social tech. We’ll get there by designing further experiences that create so much value in your life that they’re worth paying for,” he wrote.

Until 2018, the software behind the matching optimization was based on the deferred-acceptance algorithm. Now, the algorithm is proprietary with little public knowledge about specific elements or any resemblance to other software.

According to McGregor, 98 percent of Stanford students participate in the Marriage Pact. “Nobody in school today knows Stanford without the Stanford Marriage Pact,” McGregor said. “I think that’s just so cool and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Matthew Turk ’24 served as the Chief Technology Officer for Vols. 262 and 263, as well as a Grind Managing Editor, Data Director and Desk Editor in News, among other roles for The Stanford Daily. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a minor in mathematics.

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