Eric Yuan, the discreet boss of Zoom



The origin of Zoom: a love story. We are at the end of the 1980s, Éric Yuan is studying mathematics and computer science at Shandong University in China not far from Beijing. To visit the woman who will become his wife, he has to travel ten hours by train: he can only do it twice a year. He then dreams of being able to talk to her, and to see her only by pressing a button. In the mind of the Chinese student, Zoom was born.

An achievement that will take time

But the realization takes more time. To develop the idea and inspired by the success of Bill Gates, he knows that everything is now happening in Silicon Valley. With his diploma in hand, Éric Yuan applied for a visa for the United States. He will be refused eight times. At the start of the year, Éric Yuan told during a Zoom conference with Caltech University what this experience brought him. ” Looking back, I would say that wasn’t a bad thing: it was great to practice my perseverance. I’m not someone who likes to give up easily for anything. I think it’s because I have a dream and at all times I know what I’m going to do. So I have a dream, I don’t want to give up: I keep trying, trying. »

Visa in hand, Eric Yuan arrived in California in 1997. He didn’t speak English very well, he still speaks in fairly basic English according to journalist Anaïs Moutot. She covers technology topics for the weekend edition of the newspaper The echoes. She met Éric Yuan in the fall of 2019 when she was a correspondent in California. ” For him, it was illogical to fly so much, and also in terms of family life. He is the father of three children… He found that this idea of ​​doing business by getting on a plane every week to meet his clients didn’t necessarily make sense. In five years, he had gone only twice by plane and that was in 2019, long before the coronavirus. »

Its current success, Éric Yuan first built it in the late 1990s with the start-up WeBex, a pioneer in videoconferencing systems. At Cisco then in 2011, he imagined a new system, compatible with booming smartphones. His idea was rejected, so he launched his own company: Zoom Video Communications. One of its specificities: the platform can accommodate 1,000 people per meeting.

A very discreet boss

Éric Yuan is a boss who shines with his discretion. He is a businessman very focused on his business, he is known to be a workhorse according to Anaïs Moutot of echoes. “ He’s not an Elon Musk type personality, a little whimsical, who will have other interests: tweeting all day, etc. Rather, he is a slightly more traditional company boss, very focused on his customers. And it paid off: the company reached the value of one billion dollars in 2017 and two years later, Zoom made a sensational IPO.

At 51, Éric Yuan is at the head of a personal fortune of 16 billion dollars and the American magazine Time named him businessman of the year 2020. A success not necessarily well seen by his detractors. Eric Yuan has been an American citizen since 2007, but his opponents do not hesitate to remind him of his origins, against the backdrop of the Sino-American trade war.

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