It’s not easy to be Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom Technologies, the company that’s behind the most popular video chat app during the pandemic. Over the past few weeks, Zoom’s market cap has risen to $32 billion and Yuan’s personal wealth is now estimated to be $6.48 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire index.
But we bet you know little about Yuan and how he accomplished so much in a matter of nine years. Whether it’s about his childhood, his days at Cisco, his risk-taking ability, there’s a lot to learn about the 49-year-old founder and CEO of Zoom.
Here are some facts you may not have known about Eric Yuan
*Eric was born in China (Tai’An City, Shandong Province). He has a master’s degree in engineering. His parents were mining engineers, according to Forbes. At age 22, Eric got married to his long time girlfriend while he was still completing his masters.
*Yuan decided to settle in the US, when he was 27 years old. His visa applications were denied 8 times in a row, according to Forbes. On his 9th attempt, he was successful and got the visa.
*Yuan wasn’t fluent in English when he landed in the US, CNBC reported. “For the first several years, I was just writing code and I was extremely busy,” Yuan said. Asked if he never took formal English training, he said: “I just learned it from my teammates.”
*In 1997, Yuan was hired as a software engineer at a small video conferencing company called WebEx. In 2007, the firm WebEx was acquired by Cisco Systems for $3.2 billion. Yuan rose to the rank of Vice President before he left Cisco in June 2011.
*Yuan’s wife initially raised doubt about leaving Cisco and starting something of his own. “I told her, ‘I know it’s a long journey and very hard, but if I don’t try it, I’ll regret it,'” Yuan told Forbes.
*Yuan got the idea of starting Zoom during college in China, when he was a 10-hour train ride away from his girlfriend, according to Forbes. “ I was only able to see her twice a year and it took more than 10 hours to get there by train. I was young then—18 or 19 years old—and I thought it would be fantastic if in the future there was a device where I could just click a button and see her and talk to her,” Yuan told Forbes in 2017.
*Yuan is unconventional and slightly different from other Silicon Valley CEOs. He started Zoom when he was 41. While that’s not too late to start a company, it’s not your typical age to start a tech start-up in Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook out of his college dorm room at Harvard University.
*In the early days of Zoom, Yuan used to spend money where it was needed and curtail spending on plush office interiors and furnishings. “If I were to spend investor money on nice furnishings and so forth, particularly early on, I might not have it for opportunities that can really grow our business,” Yuan told Entrepreneur magazine.
*Yuan rarely travels for work and instead attends all his meetings on Zoom. He says he only travels for business twice a year in order to spend time with family, according to The Financial Times.
*Yuan’s advice to young entrepreneurs who are passionate about starting a company is to establish a culture in the firm from Day 1. “Company culture is my number one priority. It’s more important than the team, the product, the business model, or the investors. All of those things can be fixed and made better over time. But culture has to be established on Day 1. Once you have a culture problem, it’s very hard to fix,” Yuan told Sequoia, a venture capitalist firm.
*Yuan doesn’t shy in replying to customers personally whenever they face any trouble using the platform. “We have awesome, passionate customer success and social media teams, but when I see a customer who needs help or is unhappy, I take that personally, Yuan told Entrepreneur magazine.