Eugene Xiong, Founder and Chairman of the Board
Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a series of interviews with founders who have built successful technology companies. And, who better to start with, than the founder of our very own company, Eugene Xiong.
Q: Why did you start Foxit Software?
A: My inspiration was born out of frustration. Before we started our company, and we’re talking almost 15 years ago, the only majorvendor was Adobe. Back in those days especially, Adobe software was slow and not intuitive. It was a hassle to use. It was expensive too. And I knew we could do better.
Q: How have things been going since then?
A: Things are going really well. We’re now on the ninth version of our flagship product and our revenues are many tens of millions of dollars and growing at double digits. We have some great business partnerships with companies like Dell, Microsoft and Panasonic. We’ve also acquired a number of companies and brought not only great intellectual property into the company but smart people too – we have about four hundred employees, over half of them software developers.
Q: How is Foxit different from othervendors?
A: Our goal is to enable everyone, from individuals to enterprises, to share knowledge any time, on any device intuitively and securely. We’re laser-focused on providing our customers with the solutions they need to be more connected and more productive, helping them to achieve their personal and business goals. This is what drives the team at Foxit Software to excel every day.
Q: Starting a company is difficult. Why is Foxit Software succeeding where others have failed?
A: Our success is based on many things, but there are three key factors. The first of these is technology – we were able to design software that required less memory and rendered much faster. The second of these is partnerships – we succeeded in establishing strong relationships with Amazon, Google and Microsoft and others. And the third is customer focus – we try harder to provide the users of our software with better experiences.
Q: You were born in China. How has that influenced the way Foxit Software is evolving?
A: I’ve spent many years working in the United States and, when I started Foxit Software, I realized that I had an opportunity to build a company that draws on the best of both business cultures. Foxit isn’t a Chinese company or an American one, it’s a global company that incorporates the best of China, America and Europe. This is a major reason why we are successful.
Q: What have been some of the challenges you’ve experienced along the way?
A: Starting a company is difficult, as you said. There have been many challenges and, at one stage, I sold my home in Silicon Valley to keep the company going. I’m pleased to say that our sacrifices and hard work have paid off and Foxit has become a leading PDF software vendor.
Q: How would you like Foxit Software to change your industry?
A: Foxit is focused on the future of the document and in creating what we call the smart document. PDF technology has been around since the 1990s, before the growth of the internet – the PDF standard was developed to solve problems in a print-centric business world. Today PDF is used by pretty much everyone – it’s estimated that there are least 2.5 trillion PDF documents in the world – but the technology has not really evolved.
At least not until recently. We createdto turn the document into a smart device that is more than just a container of information. ConnectedPDF brings new levels of accountability, collaboration, and productivity to the creation, sharing, and tracking of PDF documents. ConnectedPDF enables users to view and share PDF documents from anywhere, even if they don’t have their computer or mobile device with them. This is our first step, a baby step in reality, along our journey to transform the document.
Q: How are you leveraging technology to achieve your vision for the company?
A: Although not the first PDF vendor to put our software in the cloud, we are ahead of the curve in terms of pushing everything – not just the PDF editing software, but also the software development kits that are used to create custom instances of PDF software – into the cloud too. Our vision promises to have a huge impact on the ability of organizations to improve costs and productivity.