Based in Silicon Valley, Zoom makes videoconferencing software to help teams seamlessly coordinate across locations, as well as easily set up calls with people outside of their companies. The product is enticing enough that Slack is a Zoom customer, despite having built videoconferencing features into its own messaging platform. Eric Yuan, Zoom's founder and CEO, spoke with Inc. about the attitude that drives his accomplishments at his company, which is now valued at $1 billion.
--As told to Sonya Mann
I had always wanted to start a company, ever since I was very young. When I still lived in China, I had a small software business. But I wanted to embrace the first wave of the internet. That's why I wanted to come to the United States.
In the 1990s, it was very hard to get an interview for a visa. In my experience, they could turn you down for no reason, like, "We at the office just do not feel comfortable." Eight times I was rejected. On the ninth attempt, finally I was successful.
But when I first came here, I wasn't able to start my company. I couldn't even speak English. So I had no choice but to just write code for a few years while I was learning the language.
I never gave up. That's my personality. Even if I have no energy and I'm so tired, I don't give up. When I do something, I want to win. If I lose, I feel bad. To be honest, when I first applied for a visa, I just wanted to come to America to take a look. But when they rejected me, I felt like I was losing. So I did all that I could to win. I was born with that--I want to win; I do not want to lose.
At Zoom, we want to win. The videoconferencing market is huge, but also extremely crowded. We have big competitors, small competitors--almost everybody is a competitor. So how do we win? We care.
Indeed, our company's core value is care. We care about our community. We care about our company. We care about our customers. We care about our teammates. And we care about ourselves. If employees do not enjoy their work, their productivity might suffer. If they're not happy, they cannot deliver happiness to customers.
My goal is not to make sure that employees work long hours. My goal is to ensure that they're happy. For example, we reimburse for any book that employees purchase for themselves or their family. That means they're trying to learn, and we want to encourage that. Part of our company culture is that we do not want to spend too much time motivating employees. We want to build a company that will encourage the employees to motivate themselves.
I enjoy working. I enjoy this company, the service, and the product. I don't feel like there's any boundary between work and life. I don't mind working long hours, because I enjoy doing that. The way to make myself happy is to work long hours.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated where Eric Yuan
worked writing code while building his English fluency. He stayed in the U.S.