Sizhao “Zao” Yang – COO and Co-founder at BetterWorks

A couple of months ago I recorded a phone call with one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met. Listen to the phone interview below and you’ll know why. “Zao” Yang really needs no introduction, considering he is the co-founder of one of the hottest startups in Southern California (BetterWorks). But if any more bragging would be necessary, I’d tell you that he also c0-created FarmVille.

Here is his bio, and then below is the original phone interview I did with him.

Sizhao “Zao” Yang is currently the COO/co-founder at BetterWorks, Inc., a perks platform for small and medium sized businesses. Previously, he co-created Farmville, and was the CEO/co-founder of MyMiniLife, Inc. (sold to Zynga Game Networks, Inc.).  After the acquisition, MyMiniLife became the common technology platform at Zynga and powers 150M monthly users including games like Cityville, Farmville, and Frontierville. He also designed the Farmville iPhone application (top iPhone app), and worked on corporate development deals including Microsoft, Yahoo, Zynga Japan, and Zynga corporate strategy. He is also an active investor with stakes in companies like Hipmunk, GroupMe, Facebook, Zynga (acquisition stock), and SV Angels. He received a B.S. in computer science at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Here is what you’ll learn during this phone call:

  • How BetterWorks works. It’s really smart, and really cool.
  • Find out why nobody has ever done what BetterWorks is trying to do
  • Listen to Zao describing his typical work day, which ranges from 10am until 3am
  • Learn how Zao ensures how he manages communication across his team – on a daily basis
  • How Zao manages an intense product roadmap and how tightly that gets managed
  • His beliefs about executing an idea, separating the strategy from tactics
  • What Zao reads on the weekend
  • The importance of KPIs and metrics
  • Zao’s favorite artists
  • And yes, I really work for a company called Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener. And I need to work on not breathing into the phone quite has heavily anymore. I am sorry.

Interview with Zao Yang