How a poor refugee from Vietnam became CTO of the billion-dollar startup Uber

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Next Shark (by Ryan General):

Today, Thuan Pham is the successful Chief Technology Officer at Uber, the most valuable ride-sharing startup in the world worth over $62 billion, but as a child, Pham struggled to survive as a poor refugee boy escaping a war-ravaged Vietnam.

Pham was among the tens of thousands of refugees who fled from the Vietnam War in 1979.  The 10-year-old Pham, his mom and his siblings were crammed with hundreds of other Vietnamese refugees on a 60-meter boat on their way to an uncertain future.

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The refugees endured a perilous journey with their boat being raided by pirates twice.

“We would not panic. In fact we would be calm and surrender ourselves,”  Pham told Tech In Asia. “That’s the way a startup journey is. Even if you lose all one day, you can build all over again if you retain your calm.”

Their boat landed on the shores of Malaysia but they were immediately rejected as refugees. Instead of returning to their country, his mother took a chance in taking her children on another boat to Indonesia, where the family stayed for 10 months.

Living on the island of Letung, young Pham would swim to the nearby town to buy candies which his mother sold in the refugee camp to earn money.

“We used to make 10 cents of profit a day, and that would be a luxury,” he recalled. “We could buy fresh fish.”

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Pham’s life began to change after his mother’s asylum application in the U.S. was approved. They relocated to Maryland, where his mother worked as a ledger keeper at a gas station during the day, and as a grocery packer at a supermarket at night.

While studying in American schools, Pham struggled initially as he didn’t know English and had to start from scratch. He also wore donated clothes and shoes and found work at a local car wash station.

“I remember wearing girl socks for almost two years in oblivion, until someone pointed,” Pham told Tech in Asia.

A persistent and hardworking student, Pham graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s in computer science in 1991.

“I strongly encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to educate themselves, even if they don’t wish to graduate,” he said. “College education opens doors for you.”

After MIT, he found work at HP Labs, Silicon Graphics, DoubleClick and VMWare. When Pham joined Uber in 2013, it was already present in 60 cities with 200 employees. Currently, the company has an estimated net worth of $62.5 billion, has a presence in almost 400 cities and employs thousands of employees around the world.

As the Uber CTO, he has helped improve the Uber app which was prone to crashes in its earlier versions.  To ensure that the app is responsive and crash-proof, Pham has developed innovations that enable its architecture to keep running even if something goes wrong.

“Now we don’t crash, because we have done that in our early journey,” he said. “Entrepreneurs should fail fast in the early days.”

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Growing up with hardship and the constant threat of death back in Saigon, which today is Ho Chi Minh City, Pham was forced to overcome fear at an early age, but that trait still stick with him today.

“It taught me that life is ephemeral,” he said. “I advise young entrepreneurs to treat their startups as a learning experience. Even if it all fails you can rebuild it again. You’re in a free world.”

5 unique cafés to visit in Asia

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Audrey Magazine (by Alyssa Park):

Cafés are popping up all over America, and they are quickly becoming part of a global culture as well. For instance, all across Asia you can find amazing cafés with different types of aesthetics such as rustic, modern, traditional and even themed. If you are traveling through Asia, then these five destinations are a must.

1. Hoho Myoll Café : (Seoul, South Korea)

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Korea is known to have some of the most beautiful cafés in the world. With a bit of a rustic aesthetic, Hoho Myoll Café is an enchanting little café tucked away in the heart of Seoul.

2. Wangye Teahouse : (Zigong, China)

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Inside of what was once a 100-year-old temple lies a very famous Sichuan Teahouse in Zigong, China. Next to the Fuxi River, visitors not only enjoy a traditional cup of tea, they can also become engrossed in a rich cultural history.

3. Shirohige’s Creampuff Shop: (Tokyo, Japan)

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Shirohige’s Creampuff Shop is one of many of Japan’s themed cafés. Not only are the creampuffs Totoro-shaped, the café itself is extremely sophisticated while maintaining a youthful charm.

4.Up Café: (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

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Up Café is a mandatory destination in Saigon mostly for it’s novelty. With all of the furniture and windows hanging upside down from the ceilings, you can’t help but feel like you are in another dimension.

5. Audrey Café & Bistro: ( Bangkok, Thailand)

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Audrey Café & Bistro is one of the most popular destinations in Bangkok, Thailand because of its beauty. With decor that only reflects elegance and class, your experience here will be nothing short of luxurious.

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A flood of scooters at the drive-through marks the opening of Vietnam’s first McDonald’s

RocketNews 24:

 

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You may have been under the impression that McDonald’s has already taken over the world. But even though it has already succeeded in introducing the Big Mac to over 120 countries or territories around the globe, it still has a few places left to conquer. Up until now, Vietnam was, perhaps surprisingly, one of those places. But not anymore with the grand opening of Vietnam’s first McDonald’s shop, which also happens to be Vietnam’s first drive-through restaurant and first 24-hour chain store. Opening day proved to be a smashing success with hordes of people flocking to sink their teeth into a juicy burger. Interestingly, due to the prevalence of scooters in Vietnam, the drive-through line was almost completely composed of people driving not cars, but scooters! Join us for a look at some opening day scenes with pictures taken by people who were there.

Vietnam’s first McDonald’s was strategically built in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s most-populated city (even more so than capital Hanoi). Before opening, over 50 members of the staff spent at least seven months training in the Philippines to learn appropriate operational and management skills. Their training must have paid off, because they seemed to handle the chaos of opening day quite efficiently, according to customers who were there.

Additionally, the branch seems to be utilizing new technologies that haven’t caught on yet in other countries to expedite the process of ordering food. For example, customers waiting in line are handed an electronic handheld device on which to place their order before they even reach the counter. Not bad!

As for the menu, the shop will initially stick to the global McDonald’s menu, gradually introducing some specific menu items to cater toward the Vietnamese palate. However, it appears that a few items already on the menu, such as the pork burgers, are already region-specific.

▼Scooters outnumber cars in the drive-through line!

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▼ The line on opening day for walk-in customers

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▼ Well, how does it taste?

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▼ Commemorative “shoving-burgers-into-our-mouths” selfie

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▼ Exterior of the first Vietnamese McDonald’s

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▼ It wouldn’t be opening day without Ronald McDonald himself making an appearance

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▼ Novelty items for sale!

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▼ In anticipation of large lines, folks who wanted to sit down inside and eat each had to take a numbered ticket.

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▼ Apparently, the wait time to sit down was one hour! Would you have waited that long for fast food?

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▼ An interesting notice to all customers: you might show up in a promotional video somewhere halfway across the world!

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▼ One Japanese visitor was curious to see if the restaurant would be just as busy at night, so he stopped by at 2 AM.

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▼ The menu. A Big Mac in Vietnam costs about the equivalent of 290 yen (US $2.83), compared with 360 yen ($3.52) in Japan.

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▼ One of the previously-mentioned handheld devices used to place orders while in line.

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▼ There’s even more to look forward to upon the arrival of a McCafe in the near future.

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▼ A view of the ground floor. We like the reminder to be frolicsome!

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▼ You reach the second level after going up some stairs. Remember that this photo was taken around 2 AM. It’s still pretty crowded!

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▼ From this angle the interior actually looks pretty classy! The variation in furniture adds a nice touch.

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▼ An open terrace area

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▼ Another look at the menu. By the way, all of the beef is imported from Australia.

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▼ Vietnamese explanations on the tray sheet

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▼ A Big Mac, a Double McPork Deluxe, and a hot apple pie

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▼ A McPork, 3 Chicken McWings, and a coffee

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▼ Now let’s take a look at the drive-through! Note the scooter symbol on the sign.

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▼ A mass of scooters

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▼ Keep in mind that this McDonald’s is also the first drive-through restaurant in Vietnam, so many people were confused about the order of how to do things. This graphic explains the process.

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▼ Free balloons for kids!

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▼ We’re approaching the destination

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▼ Getting ready to order

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▼ Hmm, can’t recall seeing one of these slips at an overseas drive-through…

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▼ Give your order to the staff member and he or she will input it for you.

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▼ More ordering

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▼ Now we’re pulling up to the cashier

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▼ Give your order number to the cashier to pay.

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▼ And finally, receive your food!

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It’s been said that there are already plans in the works to increase the number of McDonald’s in Vietnam to 100 in upcoming years, so no worries if you don’t live in Ho Chi Minh City!

Sources/Images: Byokan SundayVietnam Navi

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A flood of scooters at the drive-through marks the opening of Vietnam’s first McDonald’s

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McDonald’s brand-new Vietnam restaurant is already a total mob scene

RocketNews 24:

McDonald's Brand-New Vietnam Restaurant Is Already A Total Mob Scene

The opening of McDonald’s first restaurant in Vietnam on Saturday drew massive crowds, as well as a live DJ, face painting and various performers.

Hundreds of people began camping out at the new location in Ho Chi Minh City hours before its 8 a.m. opening to get their first taste of a Big Mac and fries made in their own hometown, according to Liberty Voice.

Here’s a photograph of some of the lines snaking into the street:

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The arrival of the fast food chain is seen as a sign of Vietnam’s rising wealth.

Food industry experts say McDonald’s and other American fast-food brands typically market themselves in Asia as a lifestyle choice for the middle class, rather than as an inexpensive option for the poor, and that their Vietnam strategy is no exception,” according to The New York Times.

Vietnam’s per capita income rose to $1,550 in 2012 from $1,000 in 2008, according to the World Bank.

The new McDonald’s is the fast food chain’s first venture into a new southeast Asian market in two decades.

It’s also Vietnam’s first drive-thru restaurant.

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McDonald’s brand-new Vietnam restaurant is already a total mob scene

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Architecture: Binh Thanh House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects