David Zalik is a name that most people are not familiar with. And that has been largely by design. The 44-year-old fintech executive is one of the most spotlight-shunning figures in the upper echelons of the business world. Zalik, in fact, had not even given a single interview to the business press until just last year.
Yet, the remarkable entrepreneur has a storied past. He immigrated to the United States from Israel with his family at the age of just four. In school, Zalik quickly proved to be a formidable prodigy, quickly breezing through grade after grade, doing things in a couple of years that normally takes other students over a decade. By the age of 12, he had graduated from high school with many advanced credits.
Zalik was personally invited to attend Auburn University, an offer that he accepted. However, Zalik found academic life to be stifling. By the age of 14, he was already itching to do something of substance in the real world. He dropped out and formed his first company, computer manufacturer MicroTech.
Zalik proved to be as astute a businessman as he had been a student. He grew MicroTech at a solid pace even as he was unable to personally enter into many contracts due to his age. By the time he had reached age 22, MicroTech was being actively sought by a number of larger firms. Zalik sold the company for $5 million.
He parlayed that into commercial real estate where he also did well. By the age of 32, Zalik was in a position to start GreenSky Credit, a company dedicated to providing loans at the retail level for big-ticket items. The idea for GreenSky came to Zalik when he was working with some of the largest home improvement contractors in the country as a routine part of another one of his businesses. Zalik spotted a huge opportunity involving extending instant loans at the point of sale. And this was the impetus behind GreenSky.
Today, GreenSky is one of the most successful firms in the fintech sector and is worth an estimated $5 billion.