Qualcomm Ventures’ Salute to a “True Entrepreneur”: Eric Yuan
Author: Sachin Deshpande, Sr. Director, Qualcomm Ventures
It all started with a 45-minute phone call back in early 2012. Having been a previous video entrepreneur for 5 years, my boss at the time Nagraj Kashyap had asked me to evaluate an early-stage video communications company founded by an industry veteran named Eric Yuan, referred to him by angel investor Bill Tai (thank you Nagraj and Bill!).
I put the phone down and stared at it intensely. I was transfixed. Sure, I had just learned about Eric’s terrific background as an engineering leader at Webex and an executive at Cisco. But more importantly, I was totally blown away by Eric’s unique vision on the future of video collaboration. Eric had explained his unique technical approach, and I felt that it was significantly different/better than others I had seen in the industry (from both video startups and Internet giants). Eric essentially had constructed an incredibly well thought-out “First Principles” multimedia approach for this new multi-device, cloud-based world.
I quickly followed up in person with Eric. He expounded upon his vision, explained his management philosophy and product-shipping approach, and showed us his early prototypes. I was very impressed and dismissed the then-typical industry biases such as “the videoconference market is already too crowded” or “videoconferencing will be a commoditized game won solely by ‘marketing’ ”. I actually felt that this industry was poised for massive growth because of the incredible technology platform shifts and end-customer needs. It just required an entrepreneurial, iterative product-based approach.
I then worked closely with my colleague, Patrick Eggen, responsible for our early Stage investments and Current Head of North America at Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of Qualcomm Incorporated. Given our conviction around Zoom’s product and Eric’s leadership we decided to invest in their Series A round. We have continued to invest throughout Zoom’s life-cycle in the last few rounds. We have been thrilled to see so many customers benefit greatly from Zoom, including Qualcomm Ventures. As my current manager Quinn Li (Global Head of Qualcomm Ventures) says, “Zoom has become an important communication tool and has really helped us to connect our global investment team across geographies, including San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, UK, Israel, India, China, Brazil, and Korea.”
It has been an incredible journey over the past 5 years, and I have learned so many valuable lessons from Eric. I will list just a few of them here as I believe these can benefit entrepreneurs everywhere (they may seem obvious, but Eric is one of the best founders that I have ever worked with):
1) Have total focus on continuously improving product quality and delivering customer happiness. This often means ignoring industry noise and rumors that often muddles the market.
2) Meticulously plan in order to meet product/customer/revenue deadlines.
3) Never compromise on hiring good talent — always hire committed, talented, and high-character employees.
Yet, even with Zoom’s early success, we believe that this is only the beginning. Even now when I continue to work with Eric, whether it is on the latest augmented reality/IoT/ or other innovative technologies solutions, Eric still maintains the same type of excitement to transform the future of multimedia collaboration in these new realms. After all, Eric is a “True Entrepreneur”.
Sachin Deshpande is Sr. Director for Qualcomm Ventures. In this role, Sachin is focused on value-add initiatives for the internal portfolio as well as Qualcomm itself. He also leads investments in the multimedia sector, including video and cloud conferencing company Zoom. Learn more about at https://www.qualcommventures.com/team/sachin-deshpande