Kelleher International

Why many Bay Area professionals turn to tradition when it comes to dating

Technology is being left out of the dating game as modern matchmakers continue to gain rise 

By: Kristen Gray

Transparency, values, and most importantly honesty was largely lost in the wave of dating apps in recent years. Besides these irksome realties, many, especially the elite,  just don’t have the time to waste online. After matching people while working for Great Expectations in the 1980’s, Jill Kelleher founded Kelleher International Matchmaking 30 years ago in San Francisco, making it one of the largest, privately owned matchmaking firms in the country, There was a real void for matchmaking, and she was good at it. “Kelleher launched in 86’, and many of my clients were high profile. They did not want to be seen by everyone. Today, the elevated professionals I work with do not want to be on Match or Tinder. They are picky, have busy schedules, and have to protect their assets,” says Jill.

Kelleher not only has high profile clients, but they also give back. “We have created an experience that goes beyond the match, which is our invite only CEO Club. We match people with their passions, and members align themselves with other philanthropists. We like to call it changing the world one match at a time,” says Amber Kelleher-Andrews, CEO of Kelleher. In the last four years, they have raised over three million for the Pellegrin rainforest, Mamoní 100, the British Virgin Island Hurricanes, WildAid, Mission Be, Virgin Unite and the Galápagos Islands, to name a few.

In the digital age there is too much choice. Having someone narrow the choices to a pool of people you are more likely to be interested in is critical in finding ‘the one’. Algorithms, unlike their use with dating apps, are not part of the process in modern matchmaking services. “We do have a way of customizing the matchmaking, but it is not calculated by a computer. We start with the priorities, asking the most important questions first, and then work our way from there,” says Jill.

The individuals that come on board with matchmaking services are serious. They have given a lot of thought on how they are going to find love; they have the right attitude, and also realistic expectations. With online dating, people are simply choosing from a few pictures, and their potential date’s perfected profile (if there is anything of value even in there). In matchmaking you are paired based on what’s beneath the facade. Many singles online are also only looking for entertainment. “Online dating has watered down courtship and the experience of dating. There’s an illusion of a bottomless pool of singles to choose from so swipe-happy singles don’t invest much effort - if any - in getting to know someone before they’re onto the next. Our matchmakers push back on those attitudes and make sure the clients are as thoughtful in the process as we are at making their matches,” Amber adds.

So where are all of these serious, and eager to find lasting love singles coming from? “About 40% of our clients are referrals,” says Amber of Kelleher. “We have a lot of San Francisco resources, and are also published in magazines all over the world. We have been around such a long time that we are a very recognizable brand. People often know our faces from the airlines,” she adds.

Finding a match could take as little as month, to as long as a year, because its a lasting match that matters to modern matchmakers. Quite differing from the instant gratification of online dating apps. But sometimes you get lucky. Really lucky. “70% of our clients find a winning match on their first go around,” says Alexandra from Kelleher.  This may sound hard to believe, but think about it this way. “There may be someone in our database for some time, but a new client can walk in that is a fit for for them. It is not necessarily a first match for both parties, but it would be a first and lasting match for the new client.” If that isn’t amazing enough, Alexandra goes on to tell me that they have two generations of marriages, and even a brother and sister who found matches.

In today’s world there are endless means to find love. Today’s matchmakers may be taking a modern twist in their approach, but their values lay in tradition, which is something many professional singles long for. At the end of the day, it all comes down to time, and many of us prefer it well spent.




And they lived happily ever after...


Kelleher International

Kelleher International

Kelleher International

Kelleher International

Kelleher International
About the Writer

Kristen Gray is a Bay Area native, currently living in both foggy San Francisco, and sunny Los Angeles, who lives and writes all things style related. When she's not writing to abandon, she enjoys practicing her balance in yoga, cooking healthy dishes (extra spice), improving her watercolor painting strokes, interior decorating, and creating looks for her personal style blog. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in Magazine Journalism and Business.