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Sept. 20, 2020

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Vancouver-based ZoomInfo stays fast on its feet amid virus

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:
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ZoomInfo co-founder and CEO Henry Schuck earned a spot on Fortune Magazine's "40 under 40" list this month. The Vancouver-based company has adapted its product and culture to the pandemic in many ways while growing at a fast pace.
ZoomInfo co-founder and CEO Henry Schuck earned a spot on Fortune Magazine's "40 under 40" list this month. The Vancouver-based company has adapted its product and culture to the pandemic in many ways while growing at a fast pace. (ZoomInfo) Photo Gallery

Like nearly all 1,432 employees at Vancouver-based ZoomInfo, co-founder and CEO Henry Schuck on Thursday sat behind his home-office desk, where he’s been conducting a changing business, now worth billions of dollars since the company’s first public stock offering in June.

“We’re not in the office anymore,” he said. “Pre-pandemic, we had a no-remote-work culture. We had the digital tools, but we really believed and still believe being under one roof and collaborating is a big advantage.”

Remote working is one way the company is adapting to the pandemic. It’s had to tailor its sophisticated lead-generation software, too, and even the way the customers pay for it.

But even with challenges, ZoomInfo is seeing a burst in growth of employees and revenue. The company’s success earned Schuck, 37, a spot on Fortune Magazine’s “40 under 40” list of young executives this month.

Now hiring

ZoomInfo is anchored in nearly three full floors of the brick-and-glass 805 Broadway building in downtown Vancouver. The newest addition to the company’s leased office space is a gym for employees, who could return to working in the office by mid-2021. Other employees work in seven offices around the globe.

The company added about 150 employees last quarter and onboarded them remotely. That amounts to about 10 percent of the employee base. And the hiring won’t slow soon, Schuck said.

“We will hire hundreds of employees in the next 12 months, most in the Vancouver office,” he said. “We’re able to hire people in entry-level roles, and in a short period of time promote them into higher-paid roles.”

Even with the growth, Schuck doesn’t anticipate building a ZoomInfo campus soon, like other large Clark County businesses such as Fisher Investments and HP. But he said there are some “interesting opportunities,” including The Waterfront Vancouver blocks. He wants to keep headquarters in the current building for a long time, and if there were a move, he would keep the business downtown, he said.

“I think our employees prefer downtown,” Schuck said. “It helps attract Portland talent. The employee activity has really helped revitalize downtown.”

ZoomInfo is a business-to-business marketing company that uses expansive databases to connect companies with potential clients using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Schuck started the company in 2007 under the name DiscoverOrg. He rebranded it after buying Zoom Information in 2019.

In the 13 years of the company’s life, it’s had six mergers and acquisitions, and that will increase in the future because of the strategic business plan, Schuck said.

“It will pick up against that pace,” he said.

ZoomInfo’s stock prices haven’t reflected the rapid revenue and employee growth. On its first day, the stock price shot up. The company raised $934 million from investors, making ZoomInfo worth $8 billion. It essentially made Schuck a billionaire. But since the boom, ZoomInfo’s stock price has fallen off — a common occurrence for companies after an initial public offering.

For about a month after the IPO, Schuck watched ZoomInfo’s stock prices every day, he said. (Shares closed at $32.61, down 38 cents, on the Nasdaq exchange Tuesday.) But he says he has since stopped looking at the prices.

“I just realized there’s no pattern in it,” he said. “I’m not going to be able to, in the middle of the day, drive the price up.”

Quarterly earning and beating analysts’ expectations affect a stock’s price, but so do random market motions, which the company can’t control.

“If you’re looking at the stock, and it goes up and down based on the second part of this, that piece of how the stock fluctuates is much less important than our ability to execute against the numbers we put out, and beat those numbers and continue to grow profitably,” Schuck said.

“If you want to judge the company’s performance, it’s not about the in-between months. It’s about our ability to deliver.”

At the end of June, ZoomInfo released its first quarterly earnings report as a public company. Its revenue grew 62 percent year-over-year to $110.9 million.

Adapting to pandemic

Schuck recalls June 4, the day that ZoomInfo had its IPO, as a day when he and his employees felt “like the world was revolving around us,” he said. It did better than expected, giving a major boost to the company’s status. Shares started trading at $34 but hit $50 within a week.

“When you’re running a private company that’s private-equity backed, you only have me telling (employees) that there are all these things like we’re unique and best in class and there aren’t a lot of companies that can execute the way that we can,” he said. “Having a whole slew of people you don’t know validate our company for all of our employees all across the world; the market validated what we’ve been building.”

But since the IPO, the company has had to adapt its product, while also having room to enact change internally and also in the community.

As racial inequality protests poured into city centers across the country, Schuck found himself in a unique spot as a business leader to use the IPO to make a statement.

Traditionally when a company goes public, a group of investment bankers from Nasdaq treat the CEO and executive team to an upscale dinner with wine. But with all employees hunkered down at home and working remotely, Schuck decided to do things differently: He donated the money that would have been spent on the dinner to nonprofits across the country, including the Clark County Food Bank.

He also decided to use some of the company’s time on the Nasdaq screen in New York to post a graphic in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Since the IPO, ZoomInfo has gained more attention from other companies with its new status as a public company. It’s also letting the company have more strategic conversations with customers, Schuck said.

He recalls before the IPO a moment when he tried to get a meeting with a senior vice president of one of ZoomInfo’s larger clients, but the VP said he wouldn’t meet with Henry because he’s not older than 45.

“Part of that is because we were a private company and nobody really knows who we are. Part of that is nonsensical,” he said.

Reaching home offices

Since the pandemic, ZoomInfo has also tweaked some of its products and services because more people are working from home.

“There are some ways you would engage with decision-makers that would buy your products and services that don’t work as well post-pandemic,” Schuck said. “But the road map and focus hasn’t changed.”

ZoomInfo offers databases of direct office phone numbers to businesses looking for new clients. But now no one’s at their desk, Schuck said, so updating the data with business mobile phones numbers has become a new target.

That idea also applies to IP address databases, which ZoomInfo creates and sells.

“We’re able to tell what IP addresses are associated with what companies,” Schuck said. “We know that companies are coming to websites where they are doing research online. Think of it like an anonymous caller ID but at the company level. We see if companies are increasing research for relevant things.”

For example, if ZoomInfo sees that a cluster of IP addresses associated with a bank are being used to research security services, ZoomInfo can sell those sales opportunities to its clients that offer that service.

“This data became less relevant because people weren’t accessing those articles and websites from their corporate stations,” Schuck said. “So we went out and rebuilt the database to take in consideration people working from home.”

The company has also gotten more flexible with its heavily affected clients’ ability to pay during the pandemic. Those customers operate in sectors including retail, hospitality, airline and transportation.

“We shifted there and helped those clients fight through this,” he said.

Diversity and inclusion

Internally, Schuck has shined a light on diversity, equity and inclusion in the company. Less than two months ago, he hired a diversity recruiter to increase the percentage of employees of color. The population of Black employees has since doubled as a percentage of the company, Schuck said.

ZoomInfo also created new relationships with historically Black colleges, started a scholarship program at one of them, and is now active in job fairs at those colleges.

“We want to be more than just a passive recipient,” Schuck said.

As ZoomInfo is growing and adapting to new challenges and its public company persona, Schuck said he can feel the excitement in Vancouver around being a leader in the local business community.

“I feel an obligation to the community to continue the streak that we’re on,” he said.

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