Douglas Merrill

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Douglas Merrill
Douglas Merrill
Born1970 (age 51–52)
Alma materUniversity of Tulsa
Princeton University
Scientific career
InstitutionsRAND Corporation
ThesisFacilitating the development of problem-solving skills with reasoning-congruent learning environments (1994)
Doctoral advisorBrian J. Reiser

Douglas Clark Merrill[1][2][3][4] (born 1970) is an American technologist and fintech entrepreneur. He grew up in Arkansas and graduated from the University of Tulsa, majoring in social and political organization. Merrill attended Princeton University, where he received master's and doctoral degrees in cognitive science. He was the CEO of ZestFinance until October of 2019.


Merrill is the CEO and founder of Zest AI (formerly Zest Finance),[5] a Los Angeles-based financial services technology company that uses machine learning and data science[6][7] to help companies make more accurate credit decisions.[8][9] The company announced a $19 million round of Series A funding in July 2011, and a $28 million round of Series B funding in January 2012. The company was one of Forbes’ Names You Need to Know in 2011[10][11][12] and a member of the Forbes Fintech 50 in 2015[13] and 2016.[14]

Previously, Merrill was CIO at Google from 2003-2008, and served as president of EMI Music's digital unit from 2008-2009.[15] In March 2010, Merrill published the book, Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff Out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right.[16][17][18] Merrill is also a former researcher with the RAND Corporation and is listed among the organization's participants.[19]

Merrill has contributed to business publications including Fast Company and Forbes, where he writes on innovation[20] and culture[21] and how the two coincide. He also speaks regularly on innovation, reforming the U.S. financial system, and how credit providers can harness technological advances to change the way creditworthiness and risk are determined.

His academic publications include articles in The Journal of the Learning Sciences,[22] Cognition and Instruction,[23] Reliable Distributed Systems, and a paper in the book series Lecture Notes in Computer Science.[24] He currently sits on the board of The Filter, a company developing recommendation filters for search engines.


  1. ^ Merrill, Douglas Clark; Martin, James A. (2010). Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff Out of Your Head, Find it when You Need It, and Get it Done Right. ISBN 978-0385528177.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Bryant, Adam (20 March 2014). "Douglas Merrill of ZestFinance: Steer Clear of What You Can't Measure". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "10 Questions: Douglas Merrill, founder and CEO, ZestFinance".
  5. ^ Quentin Hardy (2012-05-07). "Big Data for the Poor". New York Times.
  6. ^ "Silicon Valley's rich want to bank America's poor". 10 June 2014.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Kenneth Cukier (2012-05-19). "Crunching the Numbers". The Economist.
  9. ^ Ari Levy and Dakin Campbell (2012-01-23). "Rethinking Credit Scores".
  10. ^ Sarah McBride (2011-07-21). "Micro-lender Zestcash latest to win VC backing". Reuters.
  11. ^ Sarah McBride (2012-01-19). "Lender ZestCash Wins $73 Million in Funding". Reuters.
  12. ^ Quentin Hardy (2010-10-27). "The Rich Future Of Money: The Poor".
  13. ^ Sharf, Samantha. "The Fintech 50: The Complete List 2015". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  14. ^ Sharf, Samantha. "The Fintech 50: The Complete List 2016". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  15. ^ Elinor Mills (2008-04-01). "Google's CIO leaves search giant for job at EMI". CNET.
  16. ^ Thomas Claburn (2010-03-18). "Ex-Googler Douglas Merrill Talks Organization". InformationWeek.
  17. ^ Renee Montagne (2010-03-22). "Former Google Executive On Getting Organized". NPR.
  18. ^ Abbie Lundberg (2007-10-08). "IT's Third Epoch...and Running IT at Google". CIO.
  19. ^ "Douglas Merrill". RAND Corporation. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
  20. ^ Douglas Merrill (2012-03-15). "To innovate, or not to innovate, that is the question".
  21. ^ Douglas Merrill (2012-06-20). "Make your customer service actually serve your customers".
  22. ^ Merrill, D. C.; Reiser, B. J.; Ranney, M.; Trafton, J. G. (1992). "Effective Tutoring Techniques: A Comparison of Human Tutors and Intelligent Tutoring Systems". Journal of the Learning Sciences. 2 (3): 277. doi:10.1207/s15327809jls0203_2.
  23. ^ Merrill, D.; Reiser, B.; Merrill, S.; Landes, S. (1995). "Tutoring: Guided Learning by Doing". Cognition and Instruction. 13 (3): 315. doi:10.1207/s1532690xci1303_1.
  24. ^ Merrill, D. C.; Reiser, B. J.; Beekelaar, R.; Hamid, A. (1992). "Making processes visible: Scaffolding learning with reasoning-congruent representations". Intelligent Tutoring Systems. LNCS. 608. p. 103. doi:10.1007/3-540-55606-0_14. ISBN 978-3-540-55606-0.