Thumbtack CEO Marco Zappacosta

Marco Zappacosta is a tech entrepreneur and a true disrupter. He is co-founder and CEO of Thumbtack, the online marketplace for finding and hiring home service professionals that has disrupted a previously antiquated industry. However, before finding success in the tech world, Zappacosta dabbled in a somewhat unlikely place—Social Security reform.

Zappacosta's journey began with a failed attempt to become a research scientist. He felt motivated to pursue a new passion that could have an enormous impact, so he joined a co-founder to create an advocacy group called Students for Saving Social Security (SSSS). Through writing op-eds for his student newspaper, he was connected to the cause and he and his team began to rally people around the shared dream.

However, the duo soon realized that the political world was not the place for them, as they found themselves with no agency and the forces at play were far beyond them. Instead, they decided to start a technology company to have a more significant impact while at the same time having more control over how they got there.

With that ambition, Zappacosta and his team created Thumbtack, launching the product in 2009. At the time, Zappacosta found funding through a mentor's network of angels—notable investors included Jason Calacanis, Joshua Schachter, Scott Banister, and Naval Ravikant—but fundraising was still challenging. It was rare for Silicon Valley investors to back businesses like Thumbtack because of the unknowns in-home services.

Zappacosta persevered, and Thumbtack was able to attract and retain top talent as the company grew. When recruiting new team members, Zappacosta understood the importance of values and how essential it was for potential hires to align not only with the skills of the job but also with the mission and vision of the company. He was conscious of building a team that worked and communicated well, ultimately sharing the same objective of achieving success for the business.

After pouring tremendous effort and resources into the Thumbtack platform, Zappacosta found his success and witnessed the company's valuation rise to $3.2 billion. Today, Thumbtack is most well-known in the home service industry, but the platform has also moved into the education and coaching space in recent years.

While it may have started as a platform focused on connecting homeowners with the right professionals, Thumbtack now boasts an expansive range of services from event planning to life coaching—full of opportunities for professionals and customers alike.

Thumbtack continues to grow, and Zappacosta is now heading into an era of consideration of the public markets. He recently opened up about his thoughts on the right time to go public in an interview with—noting the importance of taking the time to ensure the pieces are in place before exiting the private market. He highlighted that today's public markets are looking for profitable growth and businesses that create positive returns and he’s ultimately happy his company hasn't gone public yet—allowing time for them to focus on the long-term goals of the business.

Zappacosta is quickly becoming an industry leader in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential role in the future of Thumbtack. He explained that AI helps create systems that extract wisdom, knowledge, and intelligence from the world and apply that back—a process that would have been impossible just a few years ago. He points out that AI should be used to add intelligence, thoughtfulness, and wisdom to all areas of the business.

Zappacosta is fully engaged and passionate about Thumbtack's mission. As he defines it, it's the potential to have a huge impact, to create a world where customers can find and access all of the amazing people and talents in their community at the click of a button. It's clear that Zappacosta has found the passion he was after, and that he intends to honor it by building and growing Thumbtack far into the future.

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