ZI - Schuck is a Top CEO

Here’s Zoom Info CEO Henry Schuck on the Datavana (as in data nirvana) Podcast. Datavana is a podcast put on by recent acquisition RingLead.


What I love about Schuck is that this guy has been doing sales and data analytics related to sales for his entire career. There is tight alignment between this guy, his personality, legit passion and what he does. He has been doing this work since 2002 which basically is as long as one could be doing it and his enthusiasm is obvious. His focus is on “Intent data” which is about figuring out not just who to sell to, but catching them at the exact moment they’re most likely to buy your product. That he’s not yet 40 is really something.

Around the 17 min mark he talks about Jeff Bezos, and how Bezos focused on what will not change in the next 10 years. For example, Amazon customers will always want fast delivery and low prices. Likewise Schuck is focused on fact that his customers will always want to be in front of their buyers as early as possible when those prospects are most likely to buy. So they’re laser focused on who to target and more importantly when to target them.

Schuck reminds me of The Trade Desk’s Jeff Green as both men have been in their respective spaces for the entirety of their careers and care deeply about improving the space. He has a combination of toughness and positive attitude that I love to see. He gets not just business but people. This degree of long-term commitment can’t be faked. And you hear this in his discussion of filling out forms of other companies to see how fast they jump on him, or reading old articles on sales from Harvard Business Review. The guy clearly lives for this stuff. I also find him to be candid, a straight shooter, curious and open to exploring ideas, challenges. And you can see that when he was doing this podcast, he was in alignment with the RingLead vision.

Schuck is building the top dog in pureblooded lead generation - something every company needs. For me, leadership, vision, simplicity, focus and a smaller market cap all make this one of my highest conviction stocks. I’ve gone to 45% cash off our recent run-up, but may add back some more ZI. I’ll be surprised if they don’t make it to 50B over time.

Lastly, Schuck is pronounced “shook.”


P.S. - Trying to temper my enthusiasm here after reviewing how badly I bungled the evaluation of Nutanix’s CEO. But I think the evidence of his work ethic, articulation, clarity, consistency, passion, knowledge, fierce commitment to execution are all there to justify calling him one of our best CEOs.

And one last thing cause I can’t shut up, if I were a LTBH investor I think TWLO, TTD, ZI are a beautiful set of triplets when it comes to marketing. I only own ZI at the moment but love all three.


Over the past few months I exited and re-entered my ZI position, which has been rattling at the bottom of my portfolio yet again. So when you posted this, and wanting to see what’s up with the new acquisition, I went back to Glassdoor. We expect a lot of our companies and to make that happen, you need everybody rowing in the same direction–and with gusto. That’s especially true when trying to integrate a new acquisition.

Because of that belief, one of my screens is that I don’t invest in companies with less than 4 stars on Glassdoor (unless it’s based on a tiny number of reviews), and ZI has exactly 4 stars. Here’s the overview page: https://www.glassdoor.com/Overview/Working-at-ZoomInfo-EI_IE…. Some very recent workplace awards, so that’s good.

Schuck has a rating of 83% from 202 ratings, so a fair number to judge by. A full 10% less would recommend working there to a friend. I like over 90% for the CEO, so when I see something less, I pay more attention to the specifics in the reviews. I look at the top reviews and the bottom reviews. The amount of detail in either is often telling. Is this person possibly incentivized to leave a good review? Is it just a random “This place is great!” or “Stay far away!” or are there details that tell me this is a thoughtful review by a person with specific examples to share? Which way do the most recent reviews trend–up or down?

The first page of five-star reviews are recent–they go back to 7/22 with the most recent being 9/8. They are also generalized and concise. Most could fit in a tweet. Many couldn’t seem to think of a single “con.”

The first page of one-star reviews goes back to June with the most recent being 8/30. Only one of them could fit in a tweet. The “Pros” of many if not all of them could fit in a tweet, but hoo boy, the “cons!”

Here’s what one from Aug. 7 from a Current employee–a Principal Software Engineer had to say about acquisitions:
The company is on a wild acquisition spree, and what it seems to do when it buys a company is create a department around it. In the case of the one I’m in, the teams are highly disorganized, seem to spend over half the time on bug fixes, and there’s vast disarray in back-end systems (scatter in terms of tech stack because of lack of cohesion in skillsets, very poor quality legacy and new code, data problems left and right, etc.). There can also be political pushback against fixing the issues that already exist.

As an overall company, it’s also quite disorganized and with apparent intention to keep it that way, as they gobble up smaller companies at a fast pace.

But they like the CEO, right?

From an anonymous current employee:
This company pulls you in with promises of getting rich but there is nothing glamorous about it. The equipment IT provides is outdated and slow. Onboarding feels like a slaughterhouse, where they just push you through to the next person who barely wants to be there. If you have what it takes (and let me assure you, you don’t), you can succeed. Otherwise, they will treat you like crap until you end up quitting or get fired for looking at someone wrong.

The CEO’s ego is off the charts. He came in to the old building and unplugged the game room. He then wanted everyone to come in during COVID before the state allowed it. He exhibits disgusting behavior that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. You will never be allowed to work from home.

You also get unlimited PTO which really means 15 days. They wont pay it out when you quit/get fired.

This next former employee was upset that she had to give them even 1 star. Here’s her story:
All those Best Places to Work awards that ZoomInfo has? It was bought and paid for. Every employee I have interacted with has found this place to be, by far, the worst company they have ever worked for.

The DEI culture at ZoomInfo is all a facade. They do it so that they can make themselves appear to look like they care and make themselves look like the other big tech companies that put an emphasis on DEI. Every meeting they’ve had, especially the most recent Allyship training, was an absolute joke. The employees create these trainings so that they can look good to management. I am a BIPOC female myself and I have never felt so secluded and alone. The promotions (supposedly done by seniority) were given to colleagues with less experience than me. They will take money over everything, including taking on racist clients (yes, clients who made jokes about how the BLM protests and making racist remarks about the AAPI community) even after it was brought up to MULTIPLE VPs at the company.

I want to bring up one thing specifically, too. Those pictures of the employees on the banner, was the most racist thing I have ever experienced at this company. We all got a ping from HR asking some of us to be involved in an HR project (no context whatsoever) and asked us for our help. Didn’t know who was involved but blindly I said yes. I went down to the photo studio and saw that in line was every BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and female at ZoomInfo. They were using us to make themselves look diverse. I was never so offended in my life.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Breaks were never allowed (other than lunch) and forget about even calling out sick. They force you to find coverage for someone to take your place (which is completely illegal). They even started doing that with anything COVID related, they didn’t care how terrible the vaccine made you feel or if you were feeling symptoms, you had to work. Sometimes, it was just easier to come in, sick as a dog, than it was to call out sick.

Other things that I experienced there was Upper Management always found a way to scare us and instill fear into each one of the employees. Threats of losing our jobs, forcing us to work 10-12 hour days, forcing us to be on the phone all-day, and the CEO sending a threatening letter to everyone at the company that they need to work as hard as they can or leave.

The selfishness of this company is astounding. The c-level executives have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of stocks in the company. Right before we went public, only 50% of people got raises, most didn’t even get the standard raise of 2%. They also offered most employees very minimal (less than 100) stocks that vest over a few years. They are the greediest, most selfish people you could ever work for.

Quite a few mentioned it was the most toxic culture they had ever seen. One confirmed that new hires are encouraged to leave Glassdoor ratings in their final week of training, before they know what it’s really like to work there. There are reviews about shady business practices, misuse of customer data, intentionally not reminding customers of upcoming renewal dates, forced work on weekends and holidays in addition to 12-hour days.

This sales development rep summed up that part:

Toxic work environment. Management routinely requires SDR’s to work 14 hour days. Forces SDR team to work late to hit metrics, made us compete with each other to get holidays off. We were cold-calling on Christmas and competing with each other to shave hours off our workday. Routinely forced to work weekends.
They truly do not care about their people. We were all told that our mental health was of the utmost importance during the pandemic, but then were forced to work over 50 hours per week.

A former manager said:
I cannot recommend this as a healthy work environment. There is little to no work life balance. Expect to work from 7am to 6pm every day. Expect to work weekends and holidays. Expect burnt out employees who are too afraid to speak up for fear of reprimand. Expect leadership that operates as stressed out task masters rather than creating a collective vision that employees feel a part of.

I’ve worked for well-known tech companies for years and have never experienced anything like this place. At other workplaces, even if we had to work till midnight to meet an EOM deadline we all were working as a team, towards a bigger vision that leadership set. Better still, there was always balance to the “tough times” and leaders who knew how to be human and actually lead. None of that exists here.

The pay is competitive with market, but it’ll likely cost you your health and definitely your time. Quitting was the best decision I made.

Almost every review mentioned something along those lines, with one feeling badly for their Israeli counterparts who had 18-hour days.

The scathing reviews came from offices on both coasts; from current and former employees. Many of them have “cons” that go on for many paragraphs with very specific examples. One did mention that they had a team of people coming in to try to clean things up, but that it was too little, too late.

It doesn’t sound sustainable to me as an investor. And since I feel I become a part of a company I invest in, I didn’t want any part of what I was reading.

Maybe I’ll miss out on great returns, but I exited my position a second time today, at a loss; realizing that reading those reviews was probably why I got out the first time! I need to do better at keeping a journal.

But hey, UPST is on sale today, so guess who bought still more?


I’m sure there’s truth in those reviews and have no problem with anyone passing on this one as a result.

This is surely an aggressive, hyper-driven culture that skews male and that many people, especially younger ones, and sensitive souls will find has a problematic, even toxic culture.

This is a company created by a salesman, for sales people and while it may not be pretty to know how this sausage is made, the results have been excellent and I suspect will continue to be.

Definitely calls to mind the famous Alec Baldwin “ABC Always Be Closing” speech in GlenGarry Glen Ross.

I’m not saying Schuck deserves Humanitarian of the Year, just that he’s the right guy for this particular company, which by definition must be aggressive and push boundaries. My guess is his army is okay with it and enjoys the hard fought battle.

Twilio this is not.


I think that many best performing companies have hard charging cultures with a fast pace of change which can be disconcerting to certain employees. There’s no clear correlation between glassdoor ratings and stock market returns. You can see that from my summary below (tier 1 are the widely owned names on this board with stellar stock market returns; Tier 2 are the weaker ones). Interesting Fastly has a higher rating than Cloudflare (which has one of the worst glassdoor ratings for a SaaS):

For example, Tier 1 names (Companies: Glassdoor ratings)
Datadog: 4.1
Upstart: 4.1
Zoominfo: 4.0
Cloudflare: 3.9
Crowdstrike: 4.3
Monday.com: 4.6
Lightspeed: 4.0

Tier 2 names:
Nutanix: 4.1
Zendesk: 4.3
Fastly: 4.1
Okta: 4.0
pegasystems: 3.9


BD et al.
Didn’t want to start a new thread since this one is somewhat fresh…
Mike Katz, EVP of T-Mobile Business Group, interviewed Schuck not too long ago, as part of T-Mobile’s Taking Care of Business segment (YouTube link at bottom). The conversation is extremely interesting since Schuck not only discusses ZoomInfo but also touches on digital transformation as a whole. I think this is worth 37 minutes of your time if you’re a ZoomInfo owner or just sniffing it out.

My takes:
Schuck’s enthusiasm for ZoomInfo is contagious. You can tell how excited not only Henry is, but Katz too!
Most of the first half of the interview is about AI/ML. From 6:55 to 9:40, Schuck talks about the salesperson of the future. He mentions that now, there are so many data points that it becomes difficult for the current sales rep to triangulate all the data. But with AI, the rep of the future will use the systems to learn how and what to sell.
AI discussion continues when Katz asks Schuck: “Any other industries you think are ripe for disruption?”
Schuck mentions healthcare briefly but then says “any industry where there’s a tremendous amount of data that can be crunched to provide predictive outcomes…you’ll see AI/ML really take off.” (Sound familiar?!)

Katz shifts to talking about Schuck, the person and CEO. Schuck goes into what it means to be CEO and why ZoomInfo has been so successful. You can tell this guy is very confident yet very humble. He mentions the biggest thing he’s done well is he’s hired well. A lot of love for his employees.

Near the end, Katz does a rapid-fire question segment… To the “IOS or Android?” question, Schuck answers “Well they’re both customers, so, both!”

And that got me all Schuck up.

This guy is smart, energetic, driven. Conviction booster.