From Moritz to Wall Street: Henry Schuck ’09 takes ZoomInfo public amid worldwide pandemic
By: James Grega, Jr.
Before he was running a publicly traded $15 billion company, Henry Schuck ‘09 was a JD student at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Schuck took his company, ZoomInfo, public in June of 2020. The company, which started out as DiscoverOrg, provides clients with an online database of companies that make buying decisions based on information technologies.
His entrepreneurial journey began while he was enrolled at Moritz. Living in a small house in Columbus’ Italian Village just south of campus, Schuck, and a former co-worker from Las Vegas, founded DiscoverOrg.
Schuck worked for a company that provided similar services after graduating from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas and his background and knowledge working in the field helped kick-start the idea for DiscoverOrg.
“I saw how it all worked and what went into it from a marketing, sales and data collection side,” he said. “I thought there was a big opportunity in the space.”
Getting a start-up off the ground while still in law school meant making sacrifices, however. Schuck transformed an extra bedroom into an office where he and his business partner could operate the company. He worked in the mornings and attended law classes at Moritz during the afternoon and early evening.
While it might be more common for students seeking a master’s in business to begin a start-up, Schuck said the market for lawyers is there as well.
“I took a class at Moritz called ‘Lawyers as Leaders,’” Schuck said. “I think one of the key things for me was to go and find the pockets of entrepreneurial spirit at the law school and make sure I was connecting with those people.”
With a P.O. Box and a bedroom office, Schuck and his business partner got to work. Within a few months, DiscoverOrg had its first customer and a handful of Ohio State students to assist with data collection and entry.
By the time Schuck graduated, DiscoverOrg had generated more than $1 million in annual revenue.
After graduation, DiscoverOrg moved to Vancouver, WA where the company continued to grow organically until 2014, when they hired a private equity firm to assist with their thriving business. Since being founded, DiscoverOrg has acquired six different companies with similar business models. In 2019, they acquired ZoomInfo, another company in the same space that was very data driven.
“We were always focused on high quality information on a company and ZoomInfo had been focused on quantity,” Schuck said. “So, we brought the two together to supercharge what every marketer wanted.”
After surveying their ever-growing market, Schuck discovered ZoomInfo had the more recognizable brand. Therefore, in September of 2019, they rebranded the company under the ZoomInfo name.
Just under a year before the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, the plans to take ZoomInfo public were underway. A 400-page prospectus was written up and hiring an accounting firm to audit all of ZoomInfo’s books and consolidating the finances of both DiscoverOrg and ZoomInfo. From there, Schuck said he and his CFO attended “hundreds” of meetings all over the country to meet with prospective investors.
By the beginning of 2020, ZoomInfo was ready to go public. The original launch date was set for March 26, until everything came to a halt earlier in the month due to COVID-19.
“The stock market was not in a place that could support us going public,” Schuck said. “So, we pulled back and waited for a couple months to see how the economy and pandemic was going to affect our business.”
After meeting again with investors in May, Schuck and his partners were confident enough to go public and on June 4, 2020 they did just that.
“When things are going well, you are investing in a lot of things and everyone is a beneficiary of that,” he added. “When the economy is not on solid footing, people are really interested in making sure that their sales reps and their marketing spending is as efficient as possible. We are a solution that has grown through the recessions.”
One downside to taking his company public in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic was that he wasn’t able to visit Wall Street with his family on the day ZoomInfo went public.
“When you are doing this and you start thinking about going public, there is this ambiance of being in that room and hitting that button and opening the market,” he said. “I didn’t want to give up on that being part of the story. One thing is very certain with the pandemic for so many people; The story that you had in your mind before the pandemic must be amendable to change.
“I was really excited about going to New York and IPO’ing the company that I founded 13 years earlier. But I got really excited about doing it at home. My daughter and my wife were right outside the door.”
Since taking the company public, Schuck has been interviewed by Jim Cramer of CNBC and by Caroline Hyde and Romaine Bostick on “Bloomberg Markets: The Close.” Earlier this year, Schuck, 37, was listed as one of Fortune.com’s 40-under-40 members in the area of technology. Since going public, ZoomInfo has produced stellar results.
“In our last quarterly results, we were growing at 40 percent year-over-year. We did that at $445 million in combined receipts,” Schuck said. “It is a testament to how important this product is, not just in good times but especially in bad.”
So, what is next for an already successful company? Schuck said the plan is to continue expanding internationally. While the company’s headquarters are still based in Vancouver, ZoomInfo also has office locations in Waltham, Mass.; Bellevue, WA; Bethesda, MD; Conshohocken, PA; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Ra’anana, Israel.
As he reflects on how his company has grown since it started in a small apartment in Italian Village, Schuck said the connections he made at Ohio State are still valuable more than a decade later.
“We have a smattering of Ohio State alumni who work for us, so that connection back to the state has always been a highlight for me,” Schuck, who received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, said. “We have dozens of customers from the Columbus area, so when I come back for a football game or to see friends, I can line up customer meetings which has been very rewarding.”