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In April 2011, Yuan called Scheinman to invite him for tea and a demo of his new idea.

Scheinman had also left Cisco that month and was well aware of Yuan’s background in video and collaboration. They’d struck up a friendship while working at Cisco, where Yuan established himself as a strong and reliable operator in addition to his engineering credentials. But for Scheinman to know for sure that he wasn’t backing a closeted lunatic, he made two reference calls on Yuan, including one on his drive to the meeting.

By the time he arrived at Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto, Scheinman says, he had a signed a $250,000 check, and just needed Yuan to tell him what name to put on it because there’s wasn’t yet a company.

As of the market close on Thursday, Scheinman’s investment has multiplied by over 700-fold to just under $176.5 million, though he’s locked up from selling for six months.

“I said, ‘I believe in you and I don’t care what’s in that presentation, because this is about you,'” Scheinman said, in an interview. “He said, ‘For both of our sakes, can I show you the presentation?'”

Yuan says that other investors had committed capital but Scheinman “was the first one to wire transfer the money to the bank.” Scheinman also introduced Yuan to his cousin, Jim Scheinman, founding partner of Maven Ventures.

Jim not only became an investor and adviser, but helped Yuan come up with four possible names for the company: Zippo, Hangtime, Poppy and Zoom. They ended up picking the last one.

For the first two years of Zoom’s history, the company was just a small team – mostly engineers from WebEx. The first version of the product was released in 2013, and there were still so few people outside the engineering group that Yuan took it upon himself to email any user who canceled a subscription.

Yuan said he would try and get them on a Zoom call to talk through their problems and see how he could fix them. Sometimes those users would stick around and even turn into evangelists, Yuan said.

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How the two nations’ health-care systems compare



Health care has become a major focus of the 2020 elections.

With the Democrats pushing for a government-funded model and President Donald Trump campaigning on repealing Obamacare without a clear alternative, Americans are considering what kind of health care system they may want.

“Medicare for All” has become a mantra among the left-of-center Democrats, with most of their plans calling for a universal single-payer health-care system, closely modeled after Canada’s health-care system. But there’s another national health-care system that’s worth paying attention to: France’s.

France’s health-care system, which is called “social security,” has been globally recognized for overall quality. In a 2000 report, the World Health Organization ranked it the best national health-care system in the world.

Here’s how France manages to provide universal coverage to its residents while spending half as much as the U.S. does.

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Duolingo’s ‘Game of Thrones’ language lessons see spike in popularity



If you want to learn to talk like the characters in the HBO hit series “Game of Thrones,” there’s an app for that.

Duolingo, No. 28 on the 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, offers online instruction of High Valyrian. It is one of more than 30 languages the app provides for free.

And it should come as no surprise that one of the languages created for “Game of Thrones” is among Duolingo’s more favored options.

“High Valyrian is very popular of late, particularly with the last season of ‘Game of Thrones,'” Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn said in an interview with CNBC’s “The Exchange ” on Friday.

“The person who created the language for HBO is … the only fluent speaker of High Valyrian… David Peterson,” added von Ahn. “He decided to help us add the language to Duolingo.”

Daenerys Targaryen is one of the key characters that can speak High Valyrian in Game of Thrones.

Source: HBO

The move has paid off — High Valyrian is more popular on the app than some languages spoken in the real world, like Irish, Polish or Hebrew.

“I don’t know what to think about the fact that there are more people learning High Valyrian than Irish, but it is happening,” von Ahn said.

Duolingo, founded by von Ahn and Severin Hacker in 2011, aims to teach languages in short lessons that are more like a game.

They went that route in an effort to engage their users.

“Learning a language is a lot like going to the gym. Everybody kind of wants to do it, but it requires a lot of effort doing so and sticking with,” von Ahn explained.

More from 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50:
Meet the 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 companies
Rent the Runway CEO on how she can’t lose $1 billion
Gaming platform Skillz hooks users more than Facebook and Netflix

Some of the “gamification” features include accumulating points every time you use it.

“There is a lot of different aspects of it, animations and everything, that makes it really feel like you are playing a game, which is what keeps people addicted,” he said.

The 150-person company says it has more than 300 million users on its platform and reached $36 million in revenue last year through a combination of advertising and paid services.

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Facebook breakup would be solution of last resort



Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

A break-up of U.S. social media company Facebook would be a solution of last resort that would probably generate long judicial procedures, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on Friday.

The EU antitrust chief was asked about Facebook at the VivaTech technology conference in Paris after leading U.S. Democratic politicians and one of Facebook’s co-founders recently spoke in favor of a break-up of the company.

“Of course it would be a remedy of very last resort. I think it would keep us in court for maybe a decade. It is much more direct and maybe much more powerful to say we need access to data,” Vestager told reporters.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s co-founder and former college roommate Chris Hughes this month used a New York Times opinion piece to urge U.S. regulators to break up the tech giant.

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