Refused a US visa eight times, Zoom boss is now a billionaire

Yuan and his family now have a stake the video conferencing company valued at $3.2 billion

After hearing Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates give a speech about the internet three decades ago, Eric Yuan decided he wanted to become part of the Silicon Valley dot-com boom.

Then the China-born entrepreneur hit a snag. The US government denied his visa application - eight times.

After two years of rejection, Yuan finally made it to the US and is now the major shareholder of video conference services firm Zoom Video Communications, which raised $751 million (€668 million) in an initial public offering this week.

Yuan (49) and his family sold stock worth $57 million, based on Zoom’s IPO price of $36 a share. The company’s shares soared to $62.71 shortly after they began trading on New York’s Nasdaq Global Select Market, valuing Yuan and his family’s stake at $3.2 billion.

Priscilla Barolo, a spokeswoman for San Jose, California-based Zoom, declined to comment.

Yuan, Zoom's chief executive officer, joins Alphabet's Sergey Brin, Nvidia's Jensen Huang and Tesla 's Elon Musk as immigrants who became billionaires after helping create Silicon Valley companies. The US is the favoured country for more than three-quarters of wealthy Chinese looking to emigrate, according to the Hurun Research Institute and immigration adviser Visas Consulting Group.

The global video conferencing market is expected to expand almost 8 per cent a year through 2026, according to Transparency Market Research, as a growing number of employees work from home. Zoom reported net income of $7.6 million on revenue of $331 million for the year ended January, and is now worth nine times the $1 billion valuation it secured after a funding round two years ago.

Before starting Zoom in 2011, Yuan was an early employee at WebEx Communications, an online conferencing firm, and then worked at Cisco Systems after it acquired the company for $3.2 billion in early 2007.

Yuan came up with the idea for Zoom - which counts Uber and Wells Fargo as customers - after repeatedly traveling 10 hours to see his girlfriend while they were college students.

“Someday, if I can have a smart device and with just one click I can talk with you, can see you, that was my daydream, right?” Yuan said in a July interview with US venture capital firm GGV Capital. “And every day I thought about that.” - Bloomberg