Dec.18, 2012

Bend, Not Break tells the incredible personal story of Ping Fu, Geomagic CEO, and her journey from imprisonment to freedom, and from the dogmatic anti-capitalism of Mao's China to the high-stakes, take-no-prisoners world of technology startups in the USA. It is a tribute to one woman's courage in the face of cruelty, and a valuable lesson in the enduring power of resilience.

"Ping Fu knows what it's like to be a child soldier, a factory worker, and a political prisoner. To be beaten and raped for the crime of being born into a well-educated family. To be deported with barely enough money for a plane ticket to a bewildering new land. To start all over at 25, without family or friends, as a maid and waitress and student.

Ping Fu also knows what it's like to be a pioneering software programmer, an innovator, a CEO, and Inc. magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year. To be a friend and mentor to some of the best-known names in technology. To build some of the coolest new products in the world. To give speeches that inspire huge crowds of attendees. To meet and advise the President of the United States.

It sounds too unbelievable for fiction, but this is the true story of a life in two worlds.

Born on the eve of China's Cultural Revolution, Ping Fu was separated from her family at the age of eight. She grew up fighting hunger and humiliation, and shielding her younger sister from the teenagers in Mao's Red Guard. At 25, she escaped to the United States; her only resources were $80 in traveler's checks and three phrases of English: Thank you, hello, and help.

Yet Ping persevered, and the hard-won lessons of her childhood guided her to success in her new homeland. Aided by her well-honed survival instincts, a few good friends, and the kindness of strangers, Ping grew into someone she never thought she'd be—a strong, independent, entrepreneurial leader and mother. A love of problem solving led her to computer science and Ping became part of the team that created NCSA Mosaic, which became Netscape, the web browser that changed how we access information forever. She then started a company, Geomagic, that has literally reshaped the world, from personalizing prosthetic limbs to repairing of NASA spaceships.


"Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly."
—Ping Fu's "Shanghai Papa"


I could not put this book down. From surviving the insanity of China's Cultural Revolution to the cutthroat antics of hi-tech venture capitalism, from low-life outcast to billionaire dealer—it's amazing to believe this all happened in one person's life. The lessons Ping Fu has so artfully accumulated are inspiring, heartening, educating, and entertaining. I defy anyone to read this book and not come away with a greater commitment to follow through with their plans, and a desire to invent their own lives.
—Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick, Wired, and author, 'What Technology Wants'

There are few people in our world who embody optimism like Ping Fu. Anyone who struggles with adversity or believes that their success and happiness are conditional on their circumstances needs to hear Ping's story. She shows us how the human spirit can endure amazing hardship to find happiness, joy and astounding success. More importantly, Ping shows us how being devoted to others is what carries us forwards. Ping is such an inspiration to me and everyone she meets.
—Simon Sinek, author of 'Start With Why'


About Ping Fu

Ping Fu, who was awarded in 2005 by Inc. Magazine as "The Entrepreneur of the Year", describes herself as an artist and a scientist whose chosen expression is business. In 1997, Ping co-founded Geomagic, a software company which pioneers 3D technologies aiming to enable design and production of one-of-the-kind products and services at a cost less than mass production.

Before co-founding Geomagic, Ping Fu was Director of Visualization at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, where she initiated and managed the NCSA Mosaic software project that led to Netscape and Internet Explorer. She has more than 30 years of software industry experience in database, networking, geometry processing, and computer graphics.

Since 2010, Ping has been serving on the NACIE (National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship) board at the White House and is a member of NCWIT (National Council on Women in Technology). Ping was recognized in 2012 by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as an Outstanding American By Choice.

She is also the author of two books in Chinese and inventor of five U.S. and international patents. Coming straight to the U.S. from a Chinese prison, Ping's journey to entrepreneurship is a remarkable American dream by itself. Her childhood aspiration was to be an astronaut. Today her company's software is used to ensure safe return of every NASA space shuttle. "There is a deep current of humanity in the way we approach innovation and business" she says. Ping has one daughter and lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Find more deep stories in this Conversations or click on the following links to read the excerpt of Fresh off the plane: 1984 & The Personal Factory: 1996–1999

Posted in 3D Software


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LiarCatcher wrote at 7/22/2013 5:28:52 AM:

"Coming straight to the U.S. from a Chinese prison,..." Really??? Which prison did you stay, Dr. Ping Fu?

FYI wrote at 7/22/2013 4:04:49 AM:

Did Ping Fu truthfully disclose her Chinese Communist Youth League membership when applying to become a U.S. citizen? Ping Fu had to answer the following questions in her U.S. citizenship application: Have you ever been a member of or in in any way associate (directly or indirectly) with the Communist Party? Ping Fu also had to disclose whether she was ever arrested, cited, detained by any law enforcement officer for any reason? Have you ever been in jail or prison? Did Ping Fu tell the INS (predecessor of USCIS) that she was arrested and jailed in Suzhou, China? Ping Fu signed and certified, under penalty of perjury, that her U.S. citizenship application was all true and correct. Should President Barak Obama be advised by a Chinese Communist Youth League member? Did Ping Fu disclose her Chinese Communist Youth League membership when applying for appointment to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship?

Julian wrote at 7/21/2013 10:33:36 PM:

According to her resume Ping Fu sent to National Science Foundation for her grant application, she was a lecturer at the military-associated institute, Nanjing Aeronautical Institute, between 1982 and 1983. Either she lied to NSF or she lied in her memoir.

Y.Chen wrote at 7/12/2013 3:49:27 AM:

Here is the latest development of this controversy over Ping Fu's memoir. South China Morning Post has just published an article: 'Heartbroken' author Ping Fu willing to apologise for inaccuracies in memoir' Ping Fu still need to come clean with other lies in the book. BTW, Suzhou University showed the school records that she joined the Communist Youth League in 1973, which means she was definitely not "black" as she claims in her book but "red" enough to be just one step away from being a Chinese Communist Party member! This reminds me of the recent news that that Giovanni Palatucci, 'Italian Schindler' hailed as Holocaust hero, turned out to be Nazi collaborator. Fake memoirs are nothing new, and Ping Fu is not the first one, nor will be the last one among those who turn out to be exactly the opposite of who they claim to be.

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