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Featured on Nov 18, 2011

Cliff Lerner

"Be at the right place at the right time. For us, it was Facebook."


Clifford Lerner has served as President and CEO of SNAP Interactive since the company was founded in 2005. Previously, Cliff spent his professional career from 2000 to 2005 at Lehman Brothers Inc. as an analyst in its equities division. Cliff's demanding schedule caused him to see an opportunity in the dating space, where busy professionals like himself could schedule dates by appointment, prompting him to leave the banking business altogether and go in a different direction to pursue entrepreneurship full time. Cliff has a strong knowledge and understanding of the online dating and social networking industries and has managed the product development and growth for all of SNAP Interactive's applications and websites since inception. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Economics and Business Management from Cornell University.

  • Title: President and CEO, SNAP Interactive
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Garment District
  • Contact: @clifflerner

How big is your team now at SNAP Interactive?  Considering the space that you work in, are there any special qualities that you look for in potential employees?

SNAP has successfully overcome many challenges that arise when growing from a start-up with three employees to a company that today employs 33. We always strive to hire "the best and the brightest" and we do so through a very thorough interview and vetting process.  Given that we employ a range of specialists in engineering, product management, design and development, I always look for candidates who are driven to be an expert in their specialty, people who are passionate about what they do and who stay up to date on the latest happenings in the tech industry. I look for big idea people who are problem solvers, who are team-oriented and who are eager to take ownership of their responsibilities and tasks.
Since SNAP is at the intersection of the rapidly developing social integration and mobile space, we offer talented people the chance to be at the forefront of these arenas.

If you were forced to take the entire month of January off of work, what would you do with your time and where would you go?

Turks & Caicos is my favorite place for rest and relaxation. However, to be an entrepreneur you must love what you do and you're always thinking and strategizing so there's really no such thing as a 'vacation'.  So, by taking time off, it's not so much where I'd go but what other ideas and opportunities I would have time to think about while there.

Do you have any general advice for other startups that are considering building a product that relies on one platform, as you did with Facebook?  

Make sure you build on a platform that's growing and aligns with your interests. In 2007, when Facebook opened its platform to independent developers, I saw the potential immediately. Even though I was operating a fast-growing online dating site, I realized that building on Facebook offered a life-changing opportunity. I took a big risk by shutting down the existing site and transitioned entirely to building on Facebook and it's been a big win for us ever since.
Manage your growth. The biggest challenge SNAP has faced is managing our growth. It’s easy to get distracted by bells and whistles and one-off opportunities that take you away from your core focus. Now, we focus on one or two things that we do really well and let the other things go. Startups can get caught up in trying to keep up with their competition, but the reality is if you do one or two things really well, your product will succeed.