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从越南难民到优步CTO:Thuan Pham的旅程

来源:本站翻译    更新时间:2016-10-25

  
优步科技首席技术官Thuan Pham 图片来源:The Information

1979年,Thuan Pham离开了越南的一艘难民船——此时越南已经遭受了长达二十年的战争。 在60米的船上,乘坐着10岁的Thuan、他的母亲、他的弟弟,和其他大约370人,没有救生衣。

当他们准备登陆马来西亚时,Thuan和他的家人因为是难民,被拒绝入境。 Thuan的母亲再也不愿回到被战争蹂躏的越南,于是带着她的两个孩子上了另一条船,经过整整10个月,最终到达了印度尼西亚的Letung岛。

当时,年幼的Thuan总是游到附近的城镇买糖果,然后他的母亲在难民殖民地卖掉这些糖果,给孩子们买面包。


头顿,越南 - 1975年4月:搭乘海军驳船的西贡北部难民,在西贡南部头顿港口蜂涌上岸。 (Jack Cahill / 多伦多星 via 盖蒂图片社)

“我们过去每天赚10美分的利润,这真的很奢侈。 我们可以买新鲜的鱼。“Thuan回忆说,现在他是优步的首席技术官。 我们在德里会面,同时他在这里会见企业家,推进UberExchange计划。

继续回到逃离越南的往事,Thuan说,当时乘船远渡重洋的生还几率只有50:50。 在旅途中,Thuan和他的家人还被盗了两次。

“我们并没有恐慌。 事实上,我们很冷静,向自己投诚。 这其实和创业之路一样。 即使有一天你失去了所有,如果你保持冷静,你依然可以东山再起。


战争期间的子弹壳游戏


Thuan说他在西贡生活的时候还是一个孩子,但这段特殊的童年经历消除了他对死亡的恐惧,并学到了他日后所需要的一切,包括建立优步的经验。 “在有空袭的夜晚,我们就关上窗子,躲在桌子底下,度过整个晚上。”然后在阳光明媚的早晨,Thuan和其他小伙伴就出去捡几百个子弹壳玩儿,在晚上互相交换。

 越南战争历史照片  图片来源:维基

“它教会我,生命是短暂的。 我建议年轻企业家把他们刚创业的公司作为一个学习的经验。 即使它全盘失败,你仍可以重建。 你在一个自由的世界,“他补充说。


难民船上的生活


Thuan把难民船比作“沙丁鱼罐头”。 他的描述与最近到达欧洲的移民船相似,后者挤满了来自叙利亚的难民。

带他离开越南海岸的船 - MT-2377 - 共分为三层。

“基本上,每个人必须下去其中一层,倾斜到一边。 你只能躺在那里直到旅程的结束。 没有其他任何地方可去,“Thuan说。 他在船上堆叠满了人的一层中待了约三天。 每层有一个小通气口。

那你必须去厕所时怎么办呢? “大家必须就地解决,所以它‘总是下雨’。 我母亲也在这些船层里,”他说。

 女人和孩子们蜷缩在西贡以西约20英里的一条泥泞运河里,以躲避越南战争猛烈的战火。(美联社照片/ Horst Faas)


生活在美国


从印度尼西亚登陆后,Thuan的母亲向美国申请庇护。 以家庭为单位的申请得到批准,他们最终来到马里兰州,在那里,他的母亲白天在加油站做一名分类帐管理员, 晚上,她又在超市给杂货打包。

Thuan则被美国的一所学校录取。 周末,他就在洗车站工作。 他曾经穿过慈善捐赠的衣服和鞋子。 “我记得曾经穿过近两年的女袜,直到2年后有人指出。

Thuan于1986年被麻省理工学院计算机科学专业录取,1991年毕业,当时互联网刚刚出现。

“我强烈鼓励有抱负的企业家进行自我教育,即使他们并不想毕业。 大学教育为你打开新世界大门,”他说。


1979年6月5日,越南难民流入香港。图片来源:COR/法新社/盖蒂图片社。

从麻省理工学院毕业后,这位越南男孩相继在惠普实验室、硅图形、双击公司和VMWare公司工作。2013年,他正式加入优步,当时该公司业务进入60个城市,约有200人。现在,它的业务范围分布在大约400个城市。

“我不太赞成你用宝贵生命去考一个博士,除非它有助于人类的生活。相反,建立一个初创公司或许更有价值,”他说。

Thuan的父亲是一名军人,退伍后在西贡做了老师,住在越南。Thuan直到十年后,也就是完成了他的教育,并成为一个合法美国公民之后,才见到了他的父亲。 “我们俩都变了,”他回忆说。


当优步在世界各地崩溃


在早期,Thuan见证了优步APP的多次崩溃,原因仅仅是单个工程师的编码错误或单个机器中的错误。 “现在我们不会崩溃,因为我们在初级阶段已经崩溃过。企业家失败要趁早。”

在优步,Thuan以这样的方式重建了其架构——即使在某个地方发生某些事情,该平台仍然能正常运行。

优步CTO为出租车应用公司引入了一个混合可扩展性模型。 优步正在建立自己的服务器场,并依托第三方供应商(如亚马逊网络服务系统)来管理负载。

对于包括中国在内的一些国家,请求被退回本地服务器,这使应用程序更灵敏。

 

解决优步的“星球级”问题


本周,优步在班加罗尔启动了一个技术中心。它专用于解决印度的特定问题,如准确的位置映射、现金支付,并使App在低带宽下也可顺畅工作。

该公司还正在适应引入新服务,如UberEat。

优步目前热衷于宏观思考。 “我们设想建立一个全球规模的按需消费平台。它激励我建立一个平台,可以在几分钟内带给你任何东西,“他说。

 

创业企业家的提示


在本周的印度访问期间,Thuan Pham还抽出时间指导了几家初创公司,这也是UberExchange计划的一部分。

以下是他为企业家提供的一些建议:

1、如果你的事业将造福到很多人,你自然会发财。如果只追逐金钱,你真的不会快乐。
2、构建那些可以影响和改变世界各地人们生活的事业,你将永葆动力。
3、不要对自己太较真,面对生命中的大风大浪不要犹豫胆怯。一路上玩得开心。
4、“反哺”。培养人才真的会让你有满意的结果。注意在你的团队中,培养能够领导和影响数百人的年轻人 - 即使在你离开岗位之后 - 也会让你满意。

原文链接:https://www.techinasia.com/refugee-from-vietnam-to-uber-cto-thuan-pham

原文如下:It was in 1979 that Thuan Pham left on a refugee boat from Vietnam, a country torn by a two-decade long war. On the 60-meter boat were 10-year old Thuan, his mother, a young brother, and about 370 other people, with no life jackets.

When they landed in Malaysia, Thuan and his family were rejected as refugees. Unwilling to go back to war-ravaged Vietnam, Thuan’s mother decided to take her two kids on another boat, to the island of Letung in Indonesia, where they spent 10 months.

The young Thuan used to swim to the nearby town to buy candies. His mother would then sell those candies in the refugee colony to earn bread for her kids.

 

“We used to make 10 cents of profit a day, and that would be a luxury. We could buy fresh fish,” recalls Thuan, who is now the chief technology officer of Uber. We met in Delhi, where he was meeting entrepreneurs as part of an UberExchange program.

Going back to the story of how he made it out of Vietnam, Thuan says there was just a 50:50 chance of survival in those boat journeys across oceans. During the journeys, Thuan and his family were pirated twice.

“We would not panic. In fact we would be calm and surrender ourselves. 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.”

Playing with bullet shells during war
Thuan says his life spent as a kid in Saigon erased his fear of death and he takes everything, which includes building Uber, as a learning experience. “We would close our windows and spend nights, under a table, whenever there was an air raid.” In the sunny mornings, Thuan and other kids would go out and play with hundreds of bullet shells, exchanged during the night.

“It taught me that life is ephemeral. 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,” he adds.

Even if you lose all one day, you can build all over again if you retain your calm.
Life in a refugee boat
Thuan likens a refugee boat to a ‘can of sardines’. He draws similarities with the recent migrant boats which have been arriving in Europe filled with refugees from Syria.

His boat – the MT-2377 – which left the Vietnamese shores was divided in three layers.

“Basically, one has to go down the layers and lean to one side. You have to just lay there till the end of the journey. There is no going anywhere,” says Thuan. He was stacked in one of the layers for about three days in the boat. Each layer had a small vent from which to breath.

What happens when you have to go to toilet? “People have to do it there and it would just rain down. My mom was in one of those layers,” he says.

Women and children crouch in a muddy canal as they take cover from intense Viet Cong fire, about 20 miles west of Saigon, during Vietnam war. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)
Women and children crouch in a muddy canal as they take cover from intense Viet Cong fire, about 20 miles west of Saigon, during Vietnam war. (AP Photo/Horst Faas)

Life in the US
After landing in Indonesia, Thuan’s mother applied for asylum in the US. The family’s application was approved and they landed in Maryland, where his mother worked as a ledger keeper at a gas station during day. In evening, she would work as a grocery packer at a supermarket.

Thuan was enrolled in a school in the US. On weekends he would work at a car wash station. He used to wear donated clothes and shoes. “I remember wearing girl socks for almost two years in oblivion, until someone pointed.”

Thuan was admitted to a bachelor’s program of computer science at MIT in 1986, and graduated in 1991, when the internet was just emerging.

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

The flow of Vietnamese refugees to Hong Kong - 05 June 1979. Photo credit: COR/AFP/Getty Images.
The flow of Vietnamese refugees to Hong Kong – 05 June 1979. Photo credit: COR/AFP/Getty Images.

From MIT, the boy from Vietnam went on to work at HP Labs, Silicon Graphics, DoubleClick, and VMWare. He joined Uber in 2013, when the company was present in 60 cities and employed about 200 people. Now, its present in about 400 cities.

“I am against spending precious years of your life doing a PhD, unless it contributes something to human lives. Instead building a startup can add value,” he says.

Thuan’s father, a soldier turned teacher in Saigon, had stayed back in the country. Thuan could meet him only after a decade when he completed his education, and became a legalised citizen. “We both had changed by then,” he recalls.

When Uber crashed across the world
In its early days, Thuan has seen the Uber app crash multiple times just because of a coding error by a single engineer or a bug in a single machine. “Now we don’t crash, because we have done that in our early journey. Entrepreneurs should fail fast in the early days.”

At Uber, Thuan has rebuilt its architecture in such a way, that even if something goes down somewhere, the platform will still run.

uber
Photo credit: AFP/ Getty Images, via Flickr

The Uber CTO is introducing a hybrid scalability model for the taxi app company. Uber is building its own server farms as well as relying on third party vendors such as Amazon Web Services to manage the load.

For some countries such as China, the requests are bounced off local servers, which makes the app more responsive.

Solving a planet level problem at Uber
Uber this week launched a technology center in Bangalore. It aims to solve India-specific problems such as correct location mapping, cash payments, and making the app work on low bandwidth.

The company is also adapting to introduce new services such as UberEat.

Uber is thinking at a mega scale. “We envisage a platform for on-demand consumption at the planet scale. It excites me to build a platform that can bring anything to you within minutes,” he says.

Tips for startup entrepreneurs
During his India visit this week, Thuan Pham also took time to mentor a few startups as part of an UberExchange program.

Here are some tips from him for entrepreneurs:

Money will come when you do something that impacts a lot of people. If you chase only money, you will be really unhappy.
Building something that can impact and change people’s lives across the world will always keep you motivated.
Don’t take yourself too seriously and you will not hesitate to take bold risks in life. Have fun along the way.
Give back. Developing people will really make you satisfied at the end of it. Developing young ones in your teams who can lead and impact hundreds of lives – even after you’re gone – will leave you satisfied.

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