Just six months ago, Parker Conrad resigned as CEO of Zenefits over compliance issues, a high-profile scandal in which, among other problems, brokers at the insurance brokerage startup faked their qualifications. Yet already, he is moving on to his next act.
And if Conrad can put up with some potential pushback, his new venture stands to do well, according to the CEO of a venture capital database and a public relations expert.
Given Conrad's recent history, one challenge will be convincing venture capitalists he can build out a good team, says CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal. In addition to compliance issues, Zenefits reportedly struggled with staff members drinking alcohol and having sex at the office. And in late February, the company laid off 250 employees.
"While failure won't kill your chances of raising money in the Bay Area (and might actually help them), the circumstances surrounding Parker's departure from Zenefits will certainly make it more challenging," Sanwal says. Still, he adds, with funding ample for early-stage startups, Conrad's chances of success are good.
The startup, the name of which has not been reported, operates in an area where there's room for competition, says Peter Himler, the founder of PR firm Flatiron Communications. He says that onboarding "is a significant problem for a great many small and large businesses. It sometimes takes weeks before a new employee gets his or her own computer or cell phone."
Given time, Conrad's "bad karma" will also start to fade, Himler says. "For better or worse, he already has name recognition, which, if you ask Donald Trump, is half the battle."
Conrad could not be reached for comment by the time this article was published.