Lessons in Leadership from Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom
At Canaan’s inaugural SaaSQ event, Canaan partner Joydeep Bhattacharyya interviewed Zoom founder and CEO Eric S. Yuan on how he built a billion-dollar business on a foundation of lessons learned from his tech startup career and how delivering happiness to users holds lessons for entrepreneurs. What should prospective entrepreneurs consider before starting a company? How should they balance product development with go-to-market resources? What elements preserve a strong company culture? Joydeep and Eric tackled these and much more in a candid conversation on scaling, recruiting and culture building.
Takeaways for Founders
On scaling a product: Focus on the core product and don’t lose sight of the core as you grow and build new features. “Number one goal is to make sure the customers who already are using your solution are happy. Otherwise, whatever you’re doing is not sustainable. If you spend too much time building new features or chasing after new prospects, who is going to care about existing customers?”
On hiring: Find people who can grow with the company and adapt to what you are building, not the other way around. “We always hire at the director level. We want to hire people who can grow themselves. Don’t hire someone who is overqualified. You want them to adapt to your business, rather than you adapt to their past experiences.
On building sustainable revenue: Focus on organic growth before going heavy on building a growth marketing organization. “You spend money generating leads but those leads may not be sustainable. If your product works, you for sure will have a lot of organic leads. [Later] we recruited a marketing team to promote our brand.”
On company culture: Focus on happiness, both for customers and employees. “Our culture is to deliver happiness and everything is centered around that. We don’t follow what others did, you have to make sure you understand your team and business.”
On employee retention: Companies are responsible for helping their employees succeed — you can’t just stick them in the deep end and hope they can swim. “We never want to fire someone. If you join our company, we want to help you succeed . . . we take a team approach. But, if you have integrity problems, we fire you fast.”