Eric S. Yuan is a Chinese-American engineer and businessman but he is mostly known as the Chairman, CEO, and Founder of Zoom Video Communications. Although the company gained massive popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been around for a decade as it was founded in April 2011. Its software was launched in 2013 and in 2019, the American communications technology pulled off its initial public offering which made Eric Yuan a billionaire. When the company stock lunched, he owned 22% of it valued at slightly over $9 billion. Yuan retains his position as the top institutional shareholder of the company headquartered in San Jose, California. As of December 2020, he holds 18.5% of all Zoom’s outstanding shares.
With the massive popularity that Zoom has earned in recent times, many have come to know it’s a company that provides video-teleconference and online chat services. Thanks to its ease of use, Zoom has not only been able to penetrate the video telephony market which was thought to be saturated but has become a dominant force thereof with millions of users across the globe. As of April 2020, it had surpassed a record of 300 million daily Zoom meeting participants. While the company was still privately held in 2017, it was valued at $1 billion and thus enjoyed the prestige of recognition as a unicorn company. All of these left people curious about who owns Zoom with many wondering what inspired him to found the communications technology firm.
- Eric Yaun is the founder, chairman, CEO, and top shareholder of Zoom Video Communications, Inc.
- He founded the company in April 2011 and currently owns 43,284,343 shares which represent over 18.2% ownership.
- The company went public in April 2019 and Eric Yuan became a billionaire.
- His net worth soared during the COVID-19 pandemic and he is currently worth $17.5 billion.
- The second and third biggest Zoom shareholders are Bin Yuan and Li Ka-shing.
Meet Eric Yuan, The Founder and Top Shareholder of Zoom
Eric Yuan is the founder and biggest shareholder of Zoom. Although he is now a citizen of the United States, Eric was born in China, precisely in Tai’an, Shandong Province, where he was also raised. Born to geology engineers, the 51 years old mostly schooled in China. First, he attended a public university, Shandong University of Science and Technology, where he minored in computer application and earned a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics. Thereafter, he decided to follow the footsteps of his parents and obtained a master’s degree in geology engineering from the prestigious China University of Mining and Technology.
In the mid-90s, just after Eric Yuan had earned his master’s degree, he found himself in Japan where he worked and attended a training program for a few months. As fate would have it, famous billionaire Bill Gates was also in Japan where he gave a speech about the great promises of the Internet. The speech inspired Eric to move to the United States and pursue his interest in the area as it was yet to become a big deal in China. Having resolved to relocate to America, Eric would apply for a U.S. visa several times before he had his way. For two years, he applied eight times and was rejected; his ninth try was the charm.
How The Chinese-American Engineer Founded Zoom In April 2011
Coming to America in 1997, Eric Yuan unsurprisingly decided to settle in Silicon Valley, California, the global hub for innovative technology. Even though he spoke little of English, he wasted no time in joining the pursuit of the opportunities the Internet afford. His journey began with WebEx which was just starting its operation that revolves around developing and selling videoconferencing and web conferencing applications. The company grew quickly and so did Eric.
Fast forward to a decade later, WebEx had already gone public and acquired by Cisco. Following the acquisition of WebEx by Cisco Systems in 2007, Yuan became Cisco’s Corporate vice president of engineering. He was particularly in charge of the development of collaboration software. According to Eric, serving in this position provided the opportunity for him to meet with many customers. Through the conversations he had with these customers, he realized that they were barely satisfied with the collaboration solutions in the market, including WebEx services.
In a quest to improve the situation of things, the engineer came up with the idea of building a smartphone-friendly video conferencing system which was rejected by Cisco management. Now, he had been fantasizing about a video-communication platform like Zoom since his first year at Shandong University of Science and Technology. How this fantasy came by makes an interesting tale. Yuan used to make a ten-hour train journey from time to time just to see his girlfriend, the woman to whom he is now married. The journey was always tedious for him, so he began thinking of other ways he could see his favorite person without making those ten-hour train trips. In the fullness of time, these thoughts became the basis for him to create Zoom.
Although Cisco dismissed his idea, Eric Yuan was convinced he could create a better collaboration software. He believed it was time to build the video communications platform he imagined would make life easy for him while he was dating his wife in college, and set out in 2011 to do this. While Cisco management didn’t think much of what he has brought to the table to improve things, over 40 engineers believed in Eric and joined him to create a new company. This marked the birth of Zoom Video Communications, Inc. which was founded on the 21st of April 2011.
Zoom Stock Launched In April 2019 and Made Eric Yuan a Billionaire
Zoom has not always been known as Zoom, the original name of the company was Saasbee, Inc. Given that the video-telephony market was already populated when Eric Yuan set out to build his company, it was difficult for him to attract investors. Eventually, the engineer was able to sell his idea to some fairly prominent figures in the field and raised $3 million in seed funding for the company.
Yuan was actively involved in all aspects of the company during its early days. He once shared that he personally emailed every customer who canceled the service of the company. It didn’t take long before his efforts started yielding positive results. In its second year, just after it launched a beta version that allowed for a video conference among up to 15 participants, Zoom landed its first client, Stanford University. It soon increased its number of participants to 25 and by May 2013, reached the 1 million users milestone.
As Zoom continued to record significant growth, it attracted more investors, including Qualcomm Ventures, Horizons Ventures, and billionaires like the South African-American transplant surgeon, Patrick Soon-Shiong, and the Taiwanese-American computer programmer, Jerry Chih-Yun Yang. By 2015, Zoom already had thousands of organizations subscribed to it but it continued to improve on its services. For instance, it integrated its software with other business communication platforms like Skype for Business, Slack, and Salesforce. Moreso, the number of participants allowed per conference was increased to 50.
In 2017, Sequoia Capital invested $100 million in Zoom during its Series D funding. At this point, Zoom became a “unicorn” as its value had reached $1 billion. The company continued to look for ways to build on what it had created and Zoom became a useful and practical communication tool for virtually every organization. Given that, its stock launched to positive outcomes that made Eric Yuan a billionaire. At the initial public offering of Zoom, Yuan owned 22 percent of the company valued at over $9 billion.
His Net Worth Is Currently Estimated at $17.5 Billion and He Holds 18.2% of The Company’s Shares
Debuting as a public company with an initial public offering, the value of one Zoom share was $36. But by the end of its first day of trading, the share price had skyrocketed by over 72 percent with the company valued at almost $16 million. Zoom is now worth around $130 billion, thanks to the incredible value it offered during the COVID-19 lockdown. While multiple establishments were going out of business because of the pandemic, Zoom thrived as many businesses and organizations embraced the platform for work meetings. It also became a viable tool for distance learning and was adopted by numerous schools across the globe.
Its stock price continued to climb and recorded an enormous 569 percent increase by September 2020 which brought its market cap to $129 billion. As culled from the financial report the company released in March 2021, Zoom recorded a fourth-quarter total revenue of $882.5 million and a full fiscal year total revenue of $2,651.4 million. Respectively, this represents a 369 and 326 percent increase from the previous year.
In a nutshell, the communication technology company has enjoyed remarkable growth and is incredibly profitable. It is now regarded as the biggest provider of video conferencing services in the world. This has translated into an enormous wealth for the founder, Eric Yuan. At the peak of the company’s stock price increase, his net worth soared and is currently estimated at $17.5 billion. As derived from a Schedule 13G form the company filed on the 31st of December 2020, he remains the biggest Zoom shareholder. He owns 43,284,343 shares which represent over 18.2% ownership.
Other Major Individual Shareholders of Zoom and Their Net Worths
Being a public company, Zoom Video Communications is not completely owned by Eric Yuan. He is only the founder of the company, its biggest shareholder, chairman, and chief executive officer. Other major shareholders of the company are Bin Yuan and Li Ka-shing.
- No of Shares Owned: 22,588,236
- Percentage of Ownership: 9.5397%
- Net Worth: Undetermined
No face has been associated with the name yet but it is believed that Bin Yuan is an immediate family member of Eric Yuan. Next to the founder of the company, Bin owns the second largest number of shares in Zoom. To the best of our knowledge, Bin holds a total of 22,588,236 shares which represents slightly over 9.5% ownership. While Bin’s net worth is not known, one can conclude based on the opening value of Zoom’s share ($395.73) on the 6th of August 2021 that s/he is worth at least $8.9 billion.
- No of Shares Owned: 14,558,398
- Percentage of Ownership:6.1484%
- Net Worth: $35.9 Billion
Sir Ka-shing Li is famed as The Superman for his business acumen. He is one of the most prominent and influential business magnets in Asia. Li has a diversified investment portfolio, he knows where to put his money and it has made him one of the richest people in Hong Kong, Asia, and indeed the world at large. He currently serves CK Asset Holdings and CK Hutchison Holdings as a senior advisor. Before this, he was the chairman of both establishments, a position he retired from in May 2018.
The billionaire started building his wealth way back in 1950 when he founded a plastic manufacturing company in Hong Kong. In a few years, he became the biggest supplier of plastic flowers in Asia. Through this, he accumulated the wealth that afforded him the audacity to venture into real estate. He soon became a leading developer and further diversified to retailing, asset trading, and then the internet and technology industry. Horizons Ventures, his investment and venture capital firm, is known to target startup companies in the industry.
It was through the venture capital firm that he invested in Zoom during its Series C funding. He is currently the third, biggest Zoom shareholder. Li Ka-shing owns 14,558,398 Zoom’s shares which equates to slightly over 6.1 percent ownership and his net worth is estimated at $35.9 billion. According to Forbes, he is the richest person in Hong Kong.
Zoom’s Top 10 Institutional Investors and The Number of Shares They Hold
All through its several rounds of venture capital financing, Zoom attracted multiple institutional investors who claimed some ownership percentage of the American communications technology company. For instance, Dropbox invested $5 million in the company before its initial public offering, and before that, Sequoia Capital invested in the company during its Series D funding. This was after Horizons Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures committed to funding Zoom in January 2013, September of the same year, and February of 2015.
Below is a list of Zoom’s top 10 institutional investors, the number of shares they own, and the ownership percentage it represents.
|T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.||12,537,274||5.2949 Percent|
|The Vanguard Group, Inc.||12,402,941||5.2381 Percent|
|Morgan Stanley Investment Management||11,642,461||4.9169 Percent|
|BlackRock Fund Advisors||11,251,610||4.7519 Percent|
|Baillie Gifford & Co.||8,054,141||3.4015 Percent|
|SSgA Funds Management, Inc.||3,927,768||1.66 Percent|
|ARK Investment Management LLC||3,668,607||1.5494 Percent|
|State Street Corp||3,927,768||1.6588 Percent|
|Renaissance Technologies LLC||2,520,863||1.0646 Percent|
|Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Inc.||2,397,949||1.0127 Percent|