SUNTIMES - Nov 21 - Sam Yagan is the CEO of Match Group. The 38-year-old start-up ace, the son of Syrian immigrants, spoke openly about the crisis involving his parents' homeland. Born in Chicago, raised in Bourbonnais, the married father of three attended the Illinois Math & Science Academy, Harvard and Stanford Graduate School.
Q: Talk about your family’s history.
A: My parents were born in Syria and immigrated to the US. My dad came to pursue his education in the late '60s. He later went back home, got married, brought my mom in '75.
Q: What was your trajectory into tech start-ups?
A: I founded SparkNotes in 1999 with my two best friends from Harvard. Then, I started eDonkey, a media technology company, in 2002. I went to Stanford, then founded OkCupid in 2003. I co-founded Techstars Chicago. Each year, we take 10 start-ups, mentor them, help them grow. Now in our sixth year, our companies have raised ~$100M. In 2011, we sold OkCupid to Match Group.
Q: Your family is clearly an example of a successful immigrant story. What are your thoughts about calls for the U.S. to shut its borders to Syrian war refugees after the attacks in Paris?
A: I'm disappointed. We are a nation of immigrants.
Q: The civil war has gone on for more than four years in Syria. Have you had family affected?
A: I have cousins and other family members who have been displaced by the war. Thankfully, no one has been killed or injured. My parents are still thinking they're going to go back. My dream is just for peace.