The development of COVID-19 pandemic in the world is still a severe situation, but we see obvious increase and focus of efforts in fighting it. China essentially contained the pandemic and offered her experience and support to other seriously infected countries. The U.S. has climbed up in toll of deaths caused by COVID-19 but signs are showing hopeful stabilization. My State, New York, is the worst hit State. We are essentially all self-quarantined in homes. Last weekend was my birthday and I received a surprise ‘virtual birthday party’ on Zoom, secretly organized by my wife with my six grown-up children, their spouses, my six grand sons and future daughter-in-law. I was totally surprised, thrilled and touched by their well wishes, stories they told, rare family photos showed and various performances they exhibited through Zoom. It was a great three-generation event, I was grateful for having it while observing social distancing. A birthday without fancy cake, but it was my best birthday.
Zoom (ZM, Zoom Video Communications) is a late comer in video conferencing business, founded by Eric Yuan, an immigrant from Shangdong Province, China, in 1995. Eric is not a super inventor, but he has qualities of focus, hard-working and strong will of making a product the best possible. He started as an engineer in 1997 with WebEx, a video conferencing company which went public in 2000 and was bought by Cisco in 2007. Eric was lucky in his first job and made his first pot of money with WebEx. He joined Cisco with WebEx and became a VP for engineering. Not able to convince Cisco to rebuild a better new system, he left in 2012 and pursued his Silicon Valley entrepreneuriAL adventure. His success today came with his personal ability, personality winning money man’s trust, and perseverance to accomplish his goal. Zoom had its IPO in April 2019 with stock price at $36, but it zoomed over $165 AS OF mAY 18, 2020 in little over than a year's time, making Eric a billionaire. Eric’s success story is no intriguing fairy tale, lots of Chinese, Indian and other immigrant technology workers have similar opportunities. It is the 'Silicon Valley' spirit and American free capital and enterprise systems that fostered Eric's and many other American success stories.
Eric not only drew talents from Silicon Valley but he also tapped China. His success just one more example endorsing the ‘Silicon Valley Spirit’: respect talent, cultivate international collaboration and beat the competition. Video conferencing has a lot of giants as competitors, Cisco, Google, Microsoft just to name a few. Zoom came up with a user friendly and easy to install client interface, dealt with the challenge of multiple browsers and their updates with its own protective layer, improved quality of service (QOS), an issue dogged many Internet communication products such as early Internet telephony (for example, IPO2U). Many corporations invested in Zoom including Masayoshi, CEO of SoftBank, who made more than $100B on his investment in Alibaba.
Yuan’s Zoom product benefited me during 'my self-imposed quarantine', but more importantly the Zoom success made me think about what will make America great again. President Trump’s campaign slogan, 'America First and Make America Great Again', united half of the U.S. But we need to unite the whole America to understand one thing; it is the great American success story (Silicon Valley Spirit) that will make America great. We must abandon fake news, blame game, smearing diplomacy and dirty politics. For example, the impeachment wasted our precious time and energy away from paying attention to the seriousness of corona-virus. The blame game and fake news further divided our nation rather than united us to act. Blaming China for the U.S. problems and addicting to an illogical 'China threat' hypothesis produced incoherent, hypocritical and ineffective foreign policy, totally against the Silicon Valley Spirit which China is trying so hard to emulate. The current hostile 'China policy' will not make America great or weaken China. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the faults of “blame China” and “smear China”; it did not help the U.S. but only made China striving more for self-sufficiency and appearing more like a global leader, whereas the U.S. is perceived as one abandoning her principles and justice.
The money coming to Wall Street is not because of the current U.S. foreign policy, certainly not the China policy; it came because of Silicon Valley Spirit which has made Eric and many others successful. America lost some of their manufacturing base, but we cannot force them back by charging China stealing our manufacturing jobs. Our industrialists let them go and preferred financial and data industries. The U.S. is a part of the globe even though we have been the top leader for a century. We cannot arbitrarily abandon globalism and define an American isolationism. Wouldn't that be too much like “you can’t have the cake and eat it too”?
The Silicon Valley Spirit that fostered many American success stories has a number of winning ingredients: 1. Freedom of capital and capitalism - the U.S. is still the best fertile ground for capitals. Silicon Valley is still the paradise for capitalists who can exert their capital power under a free venture and entrepreneur system. 2. Respect for talent and immigrants - Yuan is just one example of “mmigrants made this country great”. Yet our current news is discriminating against immigrants (tightening immigration laws and restricting Chinese immigrantion to the U.S. Allegedly, Yuan came to this country after 9 applications of visa. Our government is suspecting all Chinese scientists and researchers as spies for China. The politicians' discriminatory remarks about corona-virus created a series of hate crimes against Asians.) 3. Leadership in technology innovation - competition is a source of energy and creativity for successes. (We cannot be afraid of competition. We must welcome fair and square competition. Under the Silicon Valley Spirit, we must cherish proud winners not sore losers.) 4. Success factors in success stories - there are a few key elements: a. Work ethic (drive, focus and perseverance), b. Open to talents, good ideas and ability to collaborate, c. Respect history (giants in the field) and humble to learn then excel, and d. Open to the world - In the global environment today, we must respect foreign history and culture, welcome immigrants, and engage collaboration. (As a great nation, we must promote international collaboration not isolationism.)
The U.S. - China relations are on the rocks today. The U.S. China policies are violating the above golden rules of American success story. We can label China as a competitor, but using trade sanctions, discriminating against Chinese Americans and immigrants, prohibiting Chinese technology companies to do business and invest in the U.S. are all wrong. The hostile China policy has not been effective; the corona-virus pandemic gave us a clear example. Self-reflecting is far more useful than blaming others. The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that human is one race, we must work together to fight our common enemy not each other. While we are forced to be self-quarantined with time to reflect, let’s think honestly about great American success stories and how to make America great again with an open mind to engage competition. The U.S. had a fast growth period in the 60’s and 70’s, we should re-energize our successful programs such as NSF, NASA, ARPA, etc. We must invest in R&D to compete with foreign companies (like Huawei) and empower our citizens to entrepreneur and create new industries and jobs. It is shameful to use tactics like inducing Canada to arrest Huawei's executive Ms. Sarah Meng, sanctioning Huawei products in the U.S. and coercing our allies to restrict Huawei’s 5G products and systems. These tactics will only degrade the U.S. reputation and leadership. We must understand and exploit the Silicon Valley Spirit - recognizing the existing giants and discovering our mustangs who can run faster and offer better innovations to beat the competition. We must bet on our mustangs to win, since smearing anyone does not make us the winner!