The phrase “the American Dream,” coined in the early and mid-twentieth century, is defined as “the mantra for economic prosperity and success in American life.”. This, of course, is like a pipe dream for many Asian and Pacific Islanders at the time, given exclusionary acts and anti-labor forces. As we close out the month of May in honor of Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, it’s important to look at the following notable achievements by a few entrepreneurs in the Asian and Pacific American community. So, here are the legendary Asian American Entrepreneurs that you need to know about!
So, here are the top 15 Asian American Entrepreneurs you should know about!
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $6 billion
Eric Yuan saw a growing demand for teleconferencing software that could connect different employees long before a pandemic converted millions of living rooms into office settings. Yuan controlled 22 percent of Zoom’s equity when it went public in 2019, valued at more than $9 billion. After two years, the San Jose-based firm’s market valuation had risen to more than ten times that amount.
Yuan was born and reared in China. Then moved to the United States in 1997 to work as the vice president of engineering for Cisco’s Webex collaboration software. He later founded Zoom in 2011.
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $7.7 billion
Khan is best known to football fans as the flamboyant owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. However, his great fortune was built in a less glamorous industry: auto components. Khan began working with Flex-N-Gate, where he helped popularize the one-piece automobile bumper, after graduating from the University of Illinois. In 1980, he bought the company and built it into one of North America’s top automotive suppliers.
Khan has a fortune of almost $7.7 billion and has explored a variety of interests. He co-founded All Elite Wrestling, a professional wrestling entertainment company, with his son and helped fund the 24-hour Black News Channel in 2020, in addition to acquiring the Jaguars in 2012.
David Sun and John Tu
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $5.8 billion each
When Sun and Tu, who co-founded the computer-memory–chip manufacturer Camintonn Corporation, lost their entire personal assets on Black Monday in 1987, things looked gloomy. The two Taiwanese men had no idea that the crisis would lead to a success story that no one could have predicted.
When they sold their enterprise to get out of debt, the two invested the leftover funds in a new company called Kingston Technology. Their company is now one of the world’s top manufacturers of computer memory and storage systems, and the two founders are each worth more than $5.8 billion.
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $2.6 billion
Hongbin is the founder and chairman of Sunac China Holdings, a Chinese real estate conglomerate that finances everything from high-end residential complexes to resorts and theme parks. According to Forbes, the Shanxi Province native is worth $2.6 billion as of April 2022.
After early career and personal setbacks, Hongbin’s recent triumphs constitute a striking reversal of fortune. He was jailed for embezzlement while working for Lenovo in the early 1990s and spent nearly two years in prison. In 2006, his initial effort into Chinese real estate failed miserably. Sunac, on the other hand, has expanded to become mainland China’s third-largest real estate company.
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $2.7 billion
When Jerry Yang left his engineering doctoral program at Stanford in the mid-’90s to found Yahoo, the internet was only beginning to gain traction among the general population. By the time Yang left the company’s board of directors in 2012, the company was valued at about $20 billion (Verizon acquired its internet division in 2017 for $4.48 billion). He has subsequently founded AME Cloud Ventures, an investment organization that supports data-driven entrepreneurs.
Yang, who was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States at the age of ten, has donated a portion of his $2 billion wealth to cultural enterprises. The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco received a $25 million grant, the largest in its history.
Wang made a name for herself as a top bridal gown designer and a style guru who has dressed everyone from Michelle Obama to Charlize Theron and Halle Berry on the red carpet. But she can do both, to be a capable businesswoman as well as a trendsetter.
Wang, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, developed her fashion brand by designing for the rich and famous, but she later pushed her ideas to the masses through partnerships with Kohl’s department stores, Zales, David’s Bridal, and Men’s Wearhouse.
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $7.3 billion
In the early 1980s, Khosla founded Sun Microsystems with fellow Stanford graduate students Andy Bechtolsheim and Scott McNealy. Their plan was to create graphics-based workstations that could enable office automation, CAD, and robotics.
Khosla became a venture capitalist after leaving the company’s leadership team, with a predilection for taking on corporate behemoths that seemed unbeatable at the time. He invested in Nexgen, a computer processor startup that was acquired by AMD in the 1990s and went on to become a successful competitor to Intel. Later, he assisted in the founding of Juniper Networks, which aimed to challenge Cisco’s supremacy in the router industry.
Khosla Ventures, which focuses on a combination of for-profit firms and organizations that try to make a good social effect, was founded in 2004 by an entrepreneur, who is originally from India.
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $7.2 billion
For any scientist, developing a breakthrough cancer medication would be a career-maker; for Soon-Shiong, inventing Abraxane in the 1990s was just the beginning. The doctor went on to start ImmunityBio, a company focused on boosting the patient’s own immune response and is now the chairman and CEO of NantHealth, a bioinformatics company.
According to the ImmunityBio website, he was born in South Africa to Chinese parents and has more than 500 patents worldwide. He has also published more than 100 peer-reviewed studies. Soon-Shiong has lived in Southern California for more than four decades, having purchased The Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune with his financial riches.
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $22.7 billion
Huang launched NVIDIA, a business that has helped transform the gaming industry, based on his experience in PC graphics. The company invented the technology that underpins today’s sophisticated computer graphics. It invented GPUs, or graphics processing units, which are today found in everything from computers to self-driving cars.
Huang was born in Taiwan and graduated from Oregon State University and Stanford University with engineering degrees. He started NVIDIA in 1993 after working at LSI Logic and Advanced Micro Devices.
Estimated net worth (April 2022): $12.9 billion
Someone who has a history of failing firms is sometimes referred to as a serial entrepreneur. Jay Chaudhry, on the other hand, has developed a string of phenomenally profitable businesses. AirDefense, CipherTrust, CoreHarbor, and SecureIT were all acquired by significant organizations after he started them. He’s also the co-founder and CEO of Zscaler, a cloud-based security platform with a market capitalization of more than $31 billion as of April 2022.
Chaudhry’s projected $12.9 billion fortune is a true rags-to-riches story, given his beginnings in a remote Himalayan town. Despite his accomplishments, Chaudhry has mainly avoided the trappings of success, such as a posh corner office, in order to keep a pulse on his company. In an interview with investor Alejandro Cremades, Chaudhry said, “I sit in the open desk the same way our staff sits.” “It’s a powerful message.”
Peggy and Andrew Cherng
Estimated net worth: $3.3 billion
Panda Express cofounders Peggy and Andrew Cherng opened their first restaurant in Southern California. And have since expanded their business to nearly 2,000 outlets globally. Their restaurant franchise has been marred by controversy, with employment claims filed in 2018 over overtime pay reimbursement. Peggy and Andrew, on the other hand, remain committed to integrating their Chinese heritage into the competitive restaurant business.
Estimated net worth: $70 Million
Huy Fong Foods creator David Tran is well-known for his Sriracha Hot Sauce. In the early 2000s, the classic condiment became somewhat of a trend, and for good cause. Tran launched the company in the 1980s after fleeing communist Vietnam. Tran was initially chastised for his hot sauce, which did not appeal to the American palate; now worth over $60 million, Tran’s spicy sauce has surely lit a fire in the foodservice business.
John S. Chen
Estimated net worth: $57.1 Million
John S. Chen is the current CEO of Blackberry, the company best recognized for its famous phone from the early 2000s. He was born in Hong Kong and studied electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology before working for Sybase and Siemens Nixdorf, a data corporation. Chen was the highest-paid CEO in Canada in 2016, earning close to $90 million, according to Canadian Business.
Estimated net worth: $5.33 Million
The CEO, as well as, Founder of Edible Arrangements is Tariq Farid. Tariq Farid, who was born in Pakistan, built a well-known company that has made significant advances in its field. Instead of gift cards or flowers, Farid put his money into fruits and creativity, opening the first Edible Arrangements store in Connecticut in 1999. Farid is a wealthy man, with a net worth of about $600 million.
David K. Lam
For decades, MIT alumnus David K. Lam has been a household name in business and technology. Before founding his own business, Lam Research, in 1980, he worked for Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, and Texas Instruments. He moved from his home in Vietnam as a child. Residing in Hong Kong to avoid difficulties during the 1950s military expansion. Lam is presently the CEO of David Lam Group, which is expanding its technology research and investing capabilities.
And, there you have it. The list of Asian American Entrepreneurs and their backstories. I hope this inspired you and motivated you in some ways.