Zenefits is now a $4.5 billion company but its founder still can't afford a new car

Zenefits Parker Conrad ZenefitsZenefits co-founder and CEO Parker Conrad

At one point does the success of a company you founded translate into financial security?

When it becomes a billion-dollar company? A $US4.5 billion company? When investors buy a half-billion stake in it?

Nope, says Parker Conrad, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco startup Zenefits.

Two-year old Zenefits is known as one of the fastest-growing Valley startups ever, on track to grow annual recurring revenues (meaning revenues under contract, not the money actually collected) from $US20 million in 2014 to $US100 million in 2015.

And the young company just raised a whopping $US500 million at a $US4.5 billion valuation. That’s $US582 million raised to date.

But that money is being poured into the company, not his pockets. He didn’t cash out a chunk of his equity.

And that means Conrad isn’t buying cars, or houses, or even expensive dinners, because his wealth is still just paper money.

“I tried paying at a restaurant with stock options. It didn’t work,” he joked with Business Insider.

In fact, the car he owns is so old and falling apart, it’s “no longer operational,” he told us, which is a problem because his wife is expecting their first child in July.

“So I’m going to have figure out a car pretty soon,” he told us.

Not that he’s crying about his lack of liquidity. At the rate that Zenefits is growing, the 34-year-old CEO could become the next Larry Ellison long before the new baby needs his or her own car.

And, by the way, even Oracle founder Larry Ellison, the fifth richest man in the world, still has liquidity problems because most of his wealth is paper money, too. Ellison rarely sells Oracle stock. In 2014, Ellison took out a $US10 billion line of credit by pledging a small fraction of his Oracle stock as collateral.

But Ellison does have a car — a whole collection of them, as well as a collection of planes, boats, mansions, a Hawaiian island, even a couple of airlines. And we’re sure Conrad won’t be without wheels forever, too.

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