our reputation by offering a quality product
and things like an additional warranty over
competitors and a call center. Coming from
the computer industry, customer service is a
natural to me—in fact, tech support was my
first job [see “The road to Vizio”]. But many
TV companies don’t even offer tech support.
Today, six out of 10 Americans know us.
Two years ago, it was probably zero. If the
product has value for the consumer, the con-
sumer is going to love us.
to become the
innovation, reputation and consumer satisfaction in many areas. We’d like to gain the
same respect in 10 years.
It’s not just revenue. The biggest measurement we have is how many customers
love us. I measure that as more important
than revenue. To achieve that, the product
must be good, and the product must be
affordable. We want to offer customers a better product at a more affordable price.
CC: What’s the biggest challenge in managing a fast-growing company?
WW: The biggest challenge is time. To have
a really good, strong enterprise, you have
to have a really mature team. A strong working relationship is the foundation of a
good company. This takes time. That’s the
CC: What can you reveal about future
WW: The TV is a great way for us to build a
brand, but we’re not going to stay just in TV.
It just happens to be our first product.
Today, with the computing power we
have and the kind of connectivity we have,
there’s a lot more we’re looking for. I personally believe, and the rest of my company
believes, that we can really benefit the customer’s life more by coming up with more
new technology at an affordable price. We’re
working on quite a few things.
panies don’t have this discipline.
The other critical component is a strong
CC: You’ve seen booms and busts in companies firsthand in your business career.
What lessons from those apply today to Vizio?
WW: Yes, there’s a lot you can learn from the
past. First of all, be patient. Second, don’t try
to be something you are not. We have to
focus on the fundamentals and what we’re
good at. It’s important not to lose that. And
it’s essential to have a strong team.
CC: What do you see as your role in all
WW: The CEO wears a lot of hats. The CEO
has to provide a dream—an achievable
dream—to all the powers and to our customers. That’s the number-one hat—to provide that vision.
CC: How do you overcome skepticism among
consumers that low price means cheap quality?
WW: It’s very hard. It takes time. Nobody can
build brand recognition overnight. We build
CC: What’s your vision for the future
WW: I’ve told a lot of people that we want
to be the next Sony. I think we can provide
value through technology in today’s com-
puting age. Sony is a company known for its
CC: What do you like to do away from work?
WW: I like to spend time with my family.
I also love to watch movies. And golf. But
mostly spend time with my family. C
The road to Vizio
W I LLIAM WANG was born and
r aised in Taiwan and at age
1 4 came to California, where
h e became a U.S. citizen. After
graduating from the University of
Southern California in engineering,
he started his career in tech support. At age 26, he launched a
company called MAG Innovision to
build computer monitors. The company grew to $600 million in
annual revenue in six years, then
ran into financial problems, and
Wang ended up selling it to its
we spent too much money and I
didn’t have the right people in
place,” recalls Wang, now 44.
He then started another PC
monitor company, Princeton
Graphic Systems. It was struggling financially in November
2000 when Wang traveled to
Asia to lobby creditors to keep
supporting the business.
Shortly after the plane crash,
Wang closed Princeton Graphics.
A year later, he was approached
by Gateway, which had been
a customer of MAG Innovision,
to develop an HDTV plan for
Gateway’s retail stores. Wang
helped draft a plan for a line of
Gateway later dropped
plans to sell HDTVs, but Wang
sensed a new business opportunity: bringing affordable HDTVs
to the market. Using his lessons
and contacts from the computer
industry, Wang launched Vizio in
2003 with two employees and
$600,000 borrowed from parents,
friends and the mortgage on his
house. By 2007, revenue was
nearly $2 billion, with the company shipping 2. 6 million LCD
sets, second only to Samsung,
according to research firm IDC.
Vizio hopes to surpass
Samsung this year. —TT