A Walk Down College Ave is a series of interviews conducted with successful individuals to gather insights and advice for high school students, college students, and recent graduates to help them on their own path to success.
Name: David Zilberman
Position: Managing Director, Comcast Ventures
Education: BS in Finance, Binghamton University
Who is David Zilberman?
Having joined in 2006, Dave is a Managing Director at Comcast Ventures responsible for identifying, executing, and managing new investments. Focused on the transformation of enterprise IT and financial services, Dave brings a combination of operational, technical, and advisory experience to bear as an investor and board member.
Prior to Comcast Ventures, Dave was at Flarion Technologies where he was responsible for business development initiatives and was instrumental in Flarion’s $805M acquisition by QUALCOMM. Prior to Flarion, Dave spent several years at Lehman Brothers as a communications and media investment banker. A graduate of Binghamton University, Dave holds degrees in Management and Finance.
Dave is the founder and Chairman of CTI Towers and led Comcast Ventures’ investments in Bay Dynamics, BitSight, ClearSlide, College Ave Student Loans, Divide (Google), DocuSign, EdgeConneX, Slack, Vox Media, and Zenefits.
A recent transplant from NYC, Dave lives in San Francisco with his wife, daughter, and newborn son.
If someone asks you what you do, how do you respond?
Venture Capitalist: investor and advisor to entrepreneurs currently focused on disruption and innovation in Enterprise IT and Financial Services. In my 10+ years as a venture capitalist with Comcast Ventures, I’ve had the opportunity to focus on additional sectors such as digital media and network infrastructure.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
Tough to identify just one aspect, but if I were forced, I’d say having a window into technology innovation. I’m passionate about technology and my job allows me the opportunity to see many new amazing companies that are disrupting old industries.
I also enjoy advising entrepreneurs on growing their businesses and seeing their dreams come to fruition. There’s no greater professional joy than to see entrepreneurs that I’ve financially backed and advised for several years have a successful exit (IPO or M&A).
What project are you currently working on right now that excites you the most?
The (publically announced) companies that I’m currently involved with and excited about are: CTI Towers, Bay Dynamics, BitSight, EdgeConneX, Vox Media, DocuSign, ClearSlide, College Ave Student Loans, Zenefits, and Slack.
How did you decide where to go to college?
It was a multivariable decision based on college qualifications, affordability, geographic proximity to home, and campus feel.
Why did you choose to major in finance in college?
Hard to say – it was effectively bestowed upon me :-). I followed my older brother’s footsteps to focus on business/finance.
What was your first job after college and how did you land it?
I was an investment-banking analyst at Lehman Brothers and landed the position as a result of my summer internship at the company before senior year. Securing the summer internship was a networking-heavy initiative, because Lehman Brothers Investment Banking didn’t recruit on-campus at Binghamton University.
What do you recommend college students do while in school to prepare for life after graduation?
First, develop public speaking and presentation skills. No greater soft skill than being able to speak clearly and articulately. Second, networking and cultivating professional relationships is invaluable. Third, if going into any finance-oriented field, mastering Excel is fundamental. And last but not least, learn to work collaboratively in a group.
What is one thing you believe helped you advance and be successful in your career?
Attitude. I’m convinced that having a good attitude is critical to advancing.
If you were giving a commencement address at a graduation ceremony, what would be your message?
My two sound bites would be to have a good attitude and always be mindful of your image. Your digital mark will last for eternity. People forgive, but they don’t forget.
Looking back on what you have learned in your career – and in life – what is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who is just starting out?
Find something that you’re passionate about to pursue professionally. Earning a livable wage (livable wage is an individual metric) is critical, but ensure there’s alignment between earning a livable wage and being happy at work.
Lastly, if you could recommend one book for someone to read, what book would it be?
Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom. An amazingly insightful story about what’s truly important in life.
If you’d like to drop Dave a note and say hi, you can reach him at @Zilberman on Twitter.