Zoom CEO’s Promise To His Wife Helped Inspire A $1B Company


Story by Peter High, Forbes

Eric Yuan got into collaboration technology for personal reasons. When he was dating his now-wife in his native China, he would take 10-hour train rides from college to see her. The trains were packed with people to such an extent that he could sleep standing up, and he would be held up by fellow passengers who were squeezed against him. This miserable experience made Yuan wish there were a way to replicate the experience of being with her without the need for such a miserable travel experience. He joined WebEx as one of its earliest engineers in 1997, and would stay with the company through its acquisition by Cisco in 2007. He had helped grow the team from 10 engineers to more than 800 worldwide, and contributed to revenue growth from $0 to more than $800 million.

Frustrated by the constraints of a large company, Yuan left Cisco in mid-2011. He founded Zoom soon thereafter. His vision for the collaboration startup would also be sparked by a personal note. He promised his wife that the solution would be sufficiently compelling that he, as CEO of the business, would take no more than two business trips per year. Remarkably, he has lived up to this promise, not only creating a solution that has enabled him to collaborate with a broadly distributed team, but also with existing and potential customers of his company. Zoom has duly impressed a number of investors, including Sequoia Capital, which invested $100 million into the company in a Series D funding round, valuing the company at $1 billion. Yuan covers all the above and much more in this interview.

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