Uber's chief technologist was robbed by pirates while leaving Vietnam in the 70s

Thuan pham uberUberUber CTO Thuan Pham.

Uber’s chief technology officer has had an unusual path to the C-suite at Silicon Valley’s biggest startup.

Thuan Pham — who famously underwent 30 hours of quizzing at the hands of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick before finally being offered the CTO job — left Vietnam on a boat in 1979 with his mum and brother. Pham’s mother wanted to give her sons a better life after living for four years under Communism, according to a new piece out from CNN Money.

Here’s how Pham described the experience to CNN:

“We miraculously survived a major storm. The 10- to 20-foot waves were smashing into our boat. We were all just holding on for dear life.
One day we saw a light and thought someone spotted us to save us! But it was Thai pirates. They robbed us of everything. But we were lucky. They could have killed us.”

The piece goes on to detail Pham’s life, from an Indonesian refugee camp to a home in Rockville, Maryland, to MIT and later, Uber. One great detail: in 10th grade, Pham built an advanced computer program that was used by accountants at the National Bureau of Standards.

Read the full story of Pham’s path to Uber over at CNN Money.

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