Zoom CEO Eric Yuan cut an unlikely figure as he addressed the cheering throng in the moments before ringing the opening bell at Nasdaq, his bashful grin giving way to a look of focus as he said, “A new game starts today.” Sure, his startup wasn’t as well-known as Lyft and Pinterest, two consumer companies that also just made their IPO debuts. But to anyone familiar with Yuan, the shock wasn’t how he got there. It was that he was physically present at all.
The founder of Zoom, which provides video conferencing software over the internet, practices what he preaches. After Yuan hired hundreds of engineers in his native China, he went three years between in-person visits. When he raised money from top venture capital investors, he showed up just once, to make sure every investor in the room had downloaded the Zoom app. For his IPO road show, Yuan deigned to make the 50-mile trek from his San Jose, California, headquarters to San Francisco for a single investor lunch—and then bolted back to work. Everyone else, money manager big or small, met with him virtually, over Zoom. When Yuan flew to New York for the IPO, it was just his eighth work trip in five years.
“Customers have always said, ‘Eric, we’ll become your very important customer, you’ve got to visit us,’” says Yuan. “I say, ‘Fine, I’m going to visit you, but let’s have a Zoom call first.’” Th