1991 Graduated Washington & Jefferson College
1993 Founded Sterling Cellular, Inc.
1999 Broke up Sterling Cellular: Sold retail chain and telemarketing operations of Sterling Cellular
1999 Founded Inphonic, Inc.
2002 Greater Washington Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the communications category
2004 Member of the board for United States Chamber of Commerce
2007 Resigned from Inphonic
2007 Inphonic is bought by Versa Capital Management in bankruptcy court and renamed Simplexity
2007 Started CAIVIS Acquisition Corp
2011 Started XL Marketing Corp
2014 Rebranded XL Marketing as Zeta Interactive, a company he founded with John Sculley
2016 Rebranded Zeta Interactive as Zeta Global
In an interview with the New York Times, he explains the types of companies he acquires and his expectations for entrepreneurs. In 2012, Inc Magazine highlighted Steinberg's corporate strategies and direction,
In 1993 David Steinberg founded Sterling Cellular, Inc. in the basement of his house in Bethesda, Maryland with the use of credit cards and a parental loan. Sterling Cellular grossed $1.3 million in sales its first year in business. It was a business that sold cellular phones. Sterling offered free, timed delivery and a warranty/repair program and a free loaner phone program from its third month. By 1997 Sterling Cellular grew to 12 retail locations and $22 million in sales.
To use the internet for selling cell phones, Steinberg broke up Sterling Cellular. He sold off the retail chain and telemarketing operations of Sterling Cellular and founded Inphonic, Inc. Over a seven-year period, Inphonic grew into the largest seller of new cell phones on the internet with over $300 million in revenue. As the public face for Inphonic, he was praised for creating and growing the online business that dominates online sales for cell phones. He was criticized for growing the business too rapidly at the cost of customer service and revenue. This contributed to the downfall of Inphonic when the financial crisis of 2007–2010 began in 2007 with the credit squeeze on all companies. In November 2007, after Steinberg resigned as CEO and Chairman of the Board, InPhonic filed a Chapter 11 petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
After Inphonic, Steinberg secured support to start a new corporation, CAIVIS Acquisition Corp. According to their website, CAIVIS Acquisition Corp is an investment firm looking to purchase small companies in the internet space and combine them in order to maximize their opportunities. CAIVIS acts like a holding company, aiming to achieve an economy of scale for the standard infrastructure required for internet businesses, such as human resources, legal and accounting departments. At the same time it aims for multiple arbitrage by combining the smaller companies into a larger business. Small companies typically command a price–earnings ratio (PE) of 5 while larger companies command a PE of 10.
On January 30, 2014, Steinberg moderated a marketing panel hosted by Zeta Interactive on the changes in advertising and marketing over the years, using Apple's 1984 commercial as a benchmark. John Sculley was a panelist with advertising executive David Sable, Global CEO of Young & Rubicam; Jessica Gelman, Vice President of Customer Marketing & Strategy; The Kraft Group—the owners of the New England Patriots; and Hooman Radfar, Chairman and Co-Founder of marketing firm AddThis.
He has served on the Washington & Jefferson College Board of Trustees.
Zeta Global, (formerly Zeta International) is an example of the CAIVIS strategy. Several small companies specializing in different facets of online marketing were acquired and combined to create the firm. The company is a full service big data, customer acquisition, and customer relationship management services firm. XL Marketing in June 2012 it raised capital of $70 million. It acquired rival Intela and the Adchemy Actions division with that $70 million.
In January 2014, XL was re-branded as Zeta Interactive.
In July 2015, the company raised $125 million from Blackstone's GSO Capital Partners to grow its business through acquisitions of data startup companies. The company has been referred to by Forbes magazine as a 'Unicorn,' a "billion-dollar startup". Zeta calls its approach to data-driven marketing "precision marketing".
In October 2016, Zeta Interactive became Zeta Global
In April 2017, Steinberg continued building Zeta Global with a $140 Million fundraise, valuing the company at close to 1.3 Billion Dollars.