Parker Conrad

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Parker Conrad (born 1980) is cofounder of Rippling, and is the former CEO of Zenefits, a cloud-based human resources platform designed to assist with onboarding, payroll, benefits, and vacation tracking.

Early life[edit]

Conrad was born in New York City to Ellen Rouse Conrad, a president and founder of the non-profit environmental group the Bedford 2020 Coalition, and Winthrop B. Conrad, Jr., a now retired senior partner at the New York law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell.[1] He attended the prestigious Upper West Side preparatory school The Collegiate School, and spent nearly two years during high school studying the neurobiology of sea snails. This research ultimately won him $20,000 and third place nationally in the Westinghouse Talent Search.[2] Despite this early display of an evident talent for science, Parker admits that his high school grades were generally mediocre.[3]

In the fall of 1998 Conrad began studying at Harvard University, where he served as managing editor of The Harvard Crimson.[4] Conrad cites his time at the paper as an incredibly stressful period that ultimately led to his taking a leave of absence from school. "I was spending all my time at the Crimson, like 70 hours a week and I didn’t go to class for like a year," he told Business Insider in February 2015. "But then I failed out of school. I had to leave Harvard, really halfway through my tenure as the Crimson managing editor. It was this incredibly humiliating and shocking experience." However, Conrad returned to finish his studies one year later, and graduated in 2003 with an AB degree in Chemistry.[3]

Conrad was diagnosed, treated and cleared of testicular cancer at the age of 24.[3]


Conrad was a product manager at Amgen, a biotechnology firm.[citation needed] While at Amgen, Conrad co-founded a portfolio-management startup called Wikinvest (now SigFig) with Mike Sha. After a falling out with Sha in 2012, Conrad left the company.[5]

Inspired by the recent launch of President Obama's Affordable Care Act and his own experience as a cancer patient, Conrad launched Zenefits in September 2012. The company quickly took off, receiving millions in early funding rounds from top-tier venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz and Institutional Venture Partners.[5] In 2014, Zenefits was named the fastest-growing startup of the year. Its annual revenues grew from $20 million in 2014 to $100 million in 2015.[6] After only two years of existence, the company had 1,600 employees, 10,000 customers, and a $4.5 billion valuation.[7]

In May 2015, Conrad made the news after he revoked a job offer he made to an engineer who asked for advice on the question-and-answer website Quora about whether he should accept a job offer from Zenefits or Uber.[8]

In the fall of 2015, Zenefits came under scrutiny for allegedly failing to comply with state health insurance regulations; the company was subject to an investigation by the website Buzzfeed.[9] On 8 February 2016, Conrad resigned from Zenefits after it was discovered the company used unlicensed brokers to sell health insurance in multiple states.[10] In the aftermath of the investigation, Conrad's replacement as CEO, former COO David O. Sacks—who was cleared of wrongdoing in the same investigation—announced that the valuation of the company would be halved and investors' positions "trued up" in an effort at rectification, while 10% of employees accepted an offer of a two-month separation package.[11]

In 2015, Conrad was listed as Number 20 on Fortune's 40 Under Forty list.[12]


  1. ^ "Weddings: Alexandra MacRae, Parker Conrad". The New York Times. June 24, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  2. ^ Somini Sengupta (March 9, 1998). "3 New Yorkers Make Top 10 in Science Competition". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Julie Bort (February 22, 2015). "How a series of humiliating events led to one of the fastest-growing startups EVER". Business Insider. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Farhad Manjoo (February 17, 2016). "Zenefits Scandal Highlights Perils of Hypergrowth at Start-Ups". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Farhad Manjoo (September 20, 2014). "Zenefits' Leader Is Rattling an Industry, So Why Is He Stressed Out?". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  6. ^ Brian Solomon (December 17, 2014). "How Zenefits Beat Out Uber, Airbnb To Become 2014's Hottest Startup". Forbes. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  7. ^ "Parker Conrad, 35". Fortune. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  8. ^ Julie Bort. "The CEO of Zenefits told a prospective employee not to take his job offer — and his reasoning is brilliant". Business Insider. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  9. ^ William Alden (November 25, 2015). "Startup Zenefits Under Scrutiny For Flouting Insurance Laws". Buzzfeed. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  10. ^ William Alden (February 8, 2016). "Zenefits CEO resigns after compliance failures". Buzzfeed. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  11. ^ Primack, Dan (30 June 2016). "Zenefits Loses Over Half Of Its Value". Fortune. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Oh Baby! See ur new 40 Under 40 when they were (reallky) young". Fortune. Retrieved 19 October 2015.