LendingTree, an online lending and real estate services exchange, this week mourned the loss of its chief technology officer, Rick Stiegler, who died Sunday at the age of 47.

Stiegler was a key player in creating LendingTree’s patented technology, which matches consumers with lenders. The technology has largely contributed to the success of LendingTree’s business model. A number of companies have licensed the software to power their own loan centers.

Stiegler was one of LendingTree’s first employees. He most recently supervised a team of more than 95 technology people.

“As one of our very first employees and the architect of our technology, he made more contributions to LendingTree’s success than I can name. He will be deeply missed,” Doug Lebda, LendingTree’s founder and CEO, said.

The cause of death has not been determined.

Stiegler started working with LendingTree, now a unit of Interactive Corp., in 1997 as an advisor, then later joined the company as chief of technology. In the beginning, he built and maintained the Web site with a team of three developers.

He had been a software developer for 20 years and in 2001 was recognized by IDG’s Computerworld as one of the business world’s Premiere IT Leaders. Stiegler previously was vice president of Morgan Stanley, where he headed a team that developed some of the company’s first UNIX computer operating systems.

Prior to joining LendingTree, Stiegler was vice president of advanced technology at Greenwich Capital Markets, a primary U.S. Treasuries dealer. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science from Bradley University.

Stiegler had been training to run the Boston Marathon to raise money for children’s cancer care. Donations can be made in his memory to Massachusetts General Hospital at JustGiving.com through a Web page set up to collect sponsorships for his marathon run.

“He put his heart and soul into everything he did–from his family to his work–and inspired all of us with his passion for life,” Lebda said.

He is survived by his wife and three young daughters.


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