In Their Words: Karl Sun

Pete CodellaIn Their Words

Interview with Lucid CEO Karl Sun

This article is part of a series featuring business executives who choose to live and work in Utah. If you know of an executive we should interview, please contact us.

At Lucid, teamwork is priority number one. This mantra comes from the top-down, starting with Lucid’s Chief Executive Officer, Karl Sun. For him, teamwork over ego is more than an idea team members strive for, it’s a way of life. Lucid employees take pride in helping other team members and operating as a cohesive unit while pursuing individual goals. They also have a lot of fun while doing it; they have a climbing wall at their office.

Before co-founding Lucid, Sun worked at Google, leading their patent department and started their China office leading business development. His academic record is not too shabby either. Sun earned a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a law degree from Harvard.

Lucid’s mission is to make working visually easy and central for everyone. Sun, and co-founder Ben Dilts, created a visual productivity platform that helps users understand ideas faster, share information more efficiently, and communicate processes more clearly. The software is built for collaboration so teams can share, comment, and work together in real time.

How did you get started in the industry?
I met my co-founder at a speed pitching event where entrepreneurs cycled through tables with potential angel investors. I was very impressed with his working version of Lucidchart and recognized this product solved an industry-wide need for visual collaboration. We started building the company in his student apartment.

What is your leadership philosophy?
Surround yourself with the best and brightest. Hire great people, and don’t be afraid of bringing on board people who are smarter than you and have more experience in specific areas.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Whatever you’re doing, try to be the best you can be. Be present, focus on the task at hand, and make sure you’re knocking it out of the park.

What are the top two most recent professional accomplishments you are most proud of?
In 2018, Lucid announced a $72 million round of funding. It’s exciting because this funding will allow us to accelerate product development. We’re working to introduce capabilities that make it possible to create diagrams and merge visuals with external data sources automatically. This will drastically improve users’ ability to understand complex systems, processes, and ideas in ways that were previously unthinkable.

This year we also opened our Europe, Middle East, and Africa headquarters in Amsterdam, and we’re excited about the opportunities it will bring.

What do you like most about living in Utah?
You can have the best of many things in Utah. Great quality of life, very family friendly state, lower cost of doing business, and it’s an environment to grow a business relatively quickly and see it thrive.

What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
Utah is very business friendly. There’s not a lot of red tape, and state officials are eager to help. The Utah technology community looks out for the next group of companies and are willing to give advice and make introductions.

What advice do you have for individuals considering starting a business, or relocating their business, to Utah?
Take advantage of wonderful state organizations and leaders. They’re great resources to understand the economic landscape and have a wealth of knowledge. Whether it’s identifying the best location for an office, or making sure companies attract the right type of talent, they help businesses thrive.

If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice at the founding of Lucid, what would it be?
Be bold and have the confidence to shoot for the stars.  Don’t feel like you have to take baby steps.

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I failed my first three tests in college.

For Karl Sun, co-founder of Lucid, teamwork is a way life.
Connect with Karl on LinkedIn.