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Eric Yuan's success at Zoom

  • Theme: Happiness

  • Philosophy: Have a confidante, maybe your parent/s, friends. Wake up and ask yourself are you happy. If not, figure out why and come up with a solution. If the answer is you want to start a company, think about what kind of culture you want to be in for the next 10-20 years. Zoom's is happiness. They now have a chief happiness officer.

  • Finding an idea: First thought of selling books online in '94. No internet infra in China. Netscape, Yahoo taking off in the US. Came to the US in '97 with Webex. Went public '00. Sold to Cisco in '07. Stayed with Cisco till '11. Webex couldn't be tweaked for global availability, mobility, video quality. Eric tried convincing Cisco for a year to build Zoom, and then left to start Zoom. 

  • Risks and biases: 41, solo founder (he feels there are fewer benefits to a co-founder the older one is), didn't code, crowded market, established competitors. MVP has to wow.

  • Finding product market fit: Didn't raise from notable VCs, they might not support pivots. So he raised $3mm from trusted angels and people he knew from before in 1 month. Took 24 months to deliver an MVP to Stanford, and they loved it. 3 other colleges followed. No sales or marketing team. 

  • Finding growth: Hired first 3 reps and paused -> can they close deals, yes -> hired 4-6 reps, paused -> can they close deals, yes -> hired next reps. No marketing team yet. But a hyper focus on customer happiness led to viral word of mouth. The product had network effects built into it because you can't use it solo. Freemium model. Eric set up Zoom calls with prospects who didn't convert or canceled. So convinced in the quality of the product, customers, even if not commit month or commit quarter, would buy as an inevitability. 

  • Things they've done differently: 1) Hire for potential, not for experience. Experince could hurt. 2) Don't throw money as a happiness solution, build an open-honest-trust-transparent culture. 3) 60% of new hires are internal referrals. 

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