GreenSky Credit reflects CEOs rational vision of value creation

Upon touring the GreenSky Credit global headquarters, one will notice things that are quite different from other billion-dollar tech companies. For example, there are no beanbag chairs, foosball tables or beer dispensers within the GreenSky Credit offices. And the layout of the building is strictly utilitarian. Absent are the large open spaces and other amenities that could uncharitably but fairly be called wastes of space.

The relatively spartan nature of the company’s headquarters is a reflection of the man who started the firm. David Zalik is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. Like many highly successful individuals, he is often a seeming self-contradiction. While his approach to business is in some ways ultra-conservative, it is worth remembering that Zalik took the incredibly bold and risky move of betting every cent of his net worth on the future success of his company. He is consummately cost-conscious. Yet he has consistently pursued a highly aggressive growth strategy. And that strategy has ultimately paid off.

Zalik is famous for quipping that the best reason not to give a tech startup $30 million in venture capital is so that they won’t be able to waste $30 million. It is attitudes like this that have long defined Zalik as a Silicon Valley outsider. Yet GreenSky Credit is now widely recognized as being one of the most important firms in the fintech space. While competitors OnDeck and Lending Club have crashed and burned by virtue of their own strategic missteps, GreenSky Credit has grown steadily every year of its existence.

Ultimately, it has been Zalik’s focus on prime, rather than subprime, borrowers that has made all of the difference in the success of GreenSky Credit. While OnDeck and Lending Club were focused on developing shaky peer-to-peer lending models and pushing loan products that were little different from the notorious ultra-subprime NINJA loans that nearly sunk the financial industry in 2008, Zalik has connected prime borrowers with lenders who are all too glad to get high-quality loans on their books.

As a result of this dynamic, GreenSky Credit is often able to offer some of the best loan terms in the industry.

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