Thuan Pham has a BS, Computer Science and Engineering from MIT in 1990 and a MS, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 1991. Thuan was Vice President, R&D -- Cloud Management Platform at VMware, and Vice President, Engineering at Westbridge Technology, Inc. Thuan Pham joined Uber in 2013.
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.
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.
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.
At Uber, Thuan has rebuilt its architecture in such a way, that even if something goes down somewhere, the platform will still run.
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.
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