For at least the last 10 years, the trend throughout Silicon Valley in general and the financial tech sector in particular has been for companies to stay private as long as they possibly can. The reasoning is that investors inevitably push for short-term results, a tendency that can spell disaster for a tech company that is still in the incubation phase. A company like Amazon wasn’t profitable for nearly 20 years and would have been quickly ruined by investors with strong profit drive pushing the company’s long-term business strategy off the rails.
But David Zalik, the founder and CEO of GreenSky, believes that his company is ready to take the plunge and become publicly traded. Zalik would seem an odd figure to go so against the grain of fintech conventional wisdom and seek out not just the public spotlight but also the microscope that inevitably comes with taking a private firm public. As a child prodigy, Zalik enrolled in college at the age of just 12 but dropped out shortly thereafter to found his own computer assembly company. Called MicroTech, the company was a success, and Zalik sold it 10 years later for about $5 million.
He then went into a string of other business, which culminated in the formation of GreenSky, a company now estimated to be worth more than $4.5 billion. Through it all, Zalik has avoided the public eye almost as a vampire avoids light. Incredibly, the inveterate entrepreneur says that he never gave a single interview prior to 2016. For someone of such incredible accomplishments, Zalik seems to have little to no need for recognition.
Many have questioned whether the GreenSky CEO’s personality is suited for going from a 100 percent private enterprise to having to deal in the public spotlight the near 100 percent of the time required of those running publicly traded companies.
But Zalik says that GreenSky has reached a level of maturity that means the company would do well to take on public investors and utilize all of the capital influx that such a move entails. He would like to see his company grow another 4 or 5 times.