The Inspiring Immigration Backstory of Zoom Founder, Eric S. Yuan: “My visa application was rejected eight times”

Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine
Published in
6 min readJan 31, 2019

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“The first time I applied for a U.S. visa, I was rejected. I continued to apply again and again over the course of two years and finally received my visa on the ninth try.”

I had the pleasure to interview Eric S. Yuan. Eric is the founder and CEO of Zoom. Prior to founding Zoom, he was Corporate Vice President of Engineering at Cisco, where he was responsible for Cisco’s collaboration software development. Eric is a named inventor on 11 issued and 20 pending patents in real time collaboration

Yitzi: Thank you so much for your time, Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I first envisioned Zoom when I was a freshman in college in China and regularly took a ten-hour train ride to visit my girlfriend (who is now my wife). I detested those rides and used to imagine other ways I could visit my girlfriend without traveling — those daydreams eventually became the basis for Zoom.

I decided to come to the U.S. in the mid ’90’s because of the Internet, which I knew was the wave of the future. It was red hot here, but hadn’t yet taken off in China. The first time I applied for a U.S. visa, I was rejected. I continued to apply again and again over the course of two years and finally received my visa on the ninth try.

I arrived in Silicon Valley in 1997 and joined WebEx, which at the time was a real-time collaboration company with about a dozen employees. The company grew very quickly and went public within several years of my arrival.

In 2007 WebEx was acquired by Cisco and I became Cisco’s Corporate VP of engineering, in charge of collaboration software. I often met with customers, and in my conversations with them learned they weren’t happy with the current collaboration solutions, including WebEx. I firmly believed I could develop a platform that would make customers happy, so in June of 2011, I decided it was time to make the video communications solution I imagined during my college train trips a reality.

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Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator