Zoom founder Eric Yuan grew up in China. The child of middle-class geological engineers, he was an average student who took up computer science. After working in Japan, he decided he wanted to go to Silicon Valley “to embrace that first wave of internet revolution.”
Yuan applied for a US visa but was rejected. And rejected again. And again. He applied eight times before being accepted into the US.
He arrived in Silicon Valley in 1997, during the first internet boom. Yuan wanted to get in on the ground floor of a bustling startup. He found it at WebEx. Its goal was to leverage rapidly increasing bandwidth capabilities into online meetings where you could share your desktop screen easily and cheaply.
He was among the first 20 hires but found himself stymied by his inability to speak English, so he focused on what he could control: his work.
Four years after Cisco bought WebEx, he set up Zoom in 2011 to provide a better video conferencing service.