Train Journey to Fame

It was in one of those 10 hour crowded train journeys from Shangdong that Eric dreamt of a better way to meet, talk and spend time with his girlfriend.

Armed with a degree in applied maths and ace coding skills he looked westward. But even as Silicon Valley beckoned, US immigration blocked. For 8 consecutive times.

They say, Destiny does these early resilience checks. Eric eventually got through in ’97 and joined Webex. The young team there grew it fast and were good enough to be lapped up by Cisco in ’07.

The short history of tech collaboration had seen 3 waves already. Audio conf in the 90’s, data sharing in ’00-’10 and the F2F meeting wave. Eric was convinced that Webex must be re-built from scratch to compete. Folks at Cisco had other plans and blocked him. Again!

What followed is the more popular story. Eric quit with a core team and slogged for 2 years to build a new product they first named Saasbee.

So when people now say Zoom is super lucky and Eric Yuan‘s net worth is up by 112% to $7.5 bn in just 3 months of covid, this back story must be known. Of resilience and self belief. And being ready to answer destiny’s call.

Eric married the same girl. And promised her that he would not make more than 2 biz trips a year! As the Ceo of Zoom, he can!

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