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David Steinberg – Washington & Jefferson

Founder & CEO, Zeta Global

Road to Greatness

David A. Steinberg, Washington and Jefferson ’91, is the founder and chief executive officer of Zeta Global, a data-driven marketing and CRM company that integrates data, technology and marketing services designed to help brands acquire, grow and retain customers.

Brother Steinberg has been interviewed by the New York Times and highlighted in Inc Magazine about his thoughts on acquisitions and expectations for entrepreneurs as well as corporate strategies and directions he’s taken his own companies.

Early in his career, David Steinberg founded Sterling Cellular, Inc. in the basement of his house in Bethesda, Maryland with the use of credit cards and a parental loan. Sterling Cellular grossed $1.3 million in sales its first year in business. It was a business that sold cellular phones. Sterling offered free, timed delivery and a warranty/repair program and a free loaner phone program from its third month. By 1997 Sterling Cellular grew to 12 retail locations and $22 million in sales.

To use the internet for selling cell phones, Steinberg broke up Sterling Cellular. He sold off the retail chain and telemarketing operations of Sterling Cellular and founded Inphonic, Inc. which grew into the largest seller of new cell phones on the internet with over $300 million in revenue.

Later secured support to start a new corporation, CAIVIS Acquisition Corp which purchased small companies in the internet space and combined them in order to maximize their opportunities. CAIVIS acts like a holding company, to achieve an economy of scale for the standard infrastructure required for internet businesses, such as human resources, legal and accounting departments. At the same time, it aimed for multiple arbitrage by combining the smaller companies into a larger business.

On January 30, 2014, Steinberg moderated a marketing panel hosted by Zeta Interactive on the changes in advertising and marketing over the years, using Apple’s 1984 commercial as a benchmark. John Sculley was a panelist along with advertising executive David Sable, Global CEO of Young & Rubicam; Jessica Gelman, Vice President of Customer Marketing & Strategy; The Kraft Group—the owners of the New England Patriots; and Hooman Radfar, Chairman and Co-Founder of marketing firm

He has served on the Washington & Jefferson College Board of Trustees.

Career Timeline

  • 1991 Graduated Washington & Jefferson College
  • 1993 Founded Sterling Cellular, Inc.
  • 1999 Broke up Sterling Cellular: Sold retail chain and telemarketing operations of Sterling Cellular
  • 1999 Founded Inphonic, Inc.
  • 2002 Greater Washington Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the communications category
  • 2004 Member of the board for United States Chamber of Commerce
  • 2007 Resigned from Inphonic
  • 2007 Inphonic is bought by Versa Capital Management in bankruptcy court and renamed Simplexity
  • 2007 Started CAIVIS Acquisition Corp
  • 2011 Started XL Marketing Corp
  • 2014 Rebranded XL Marketing as Zeta Interactive, a company he founded with John Sculley
  • 2016 Rebranded Zeta Interactive as Zeta Global

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