Ping Fu

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Ping Fu
PingFu lg.jpg
Born1958 (age 64–65)[1]
EducationUniversity of California, San Diego, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Alma materUniversity of California, San Diego
Occupation(s)Vice President and Chief Entrepreneur Officer, 3D Systems[2][3][4]
Employer3D Systems
Notable workBend, Not Break: A Life In Two Worlds
Board member ofLong Now Foundation
National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Live Nation Entertainment
Ping Fu

Ping Fu (born 1958) is a Chinese-American entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of 3D software development company Geomagic, and was its chief executive officer until February 2013 when the company was acquired by 3D Systems Inc. As of March 2014, she is the Vice President and Chief Entrepreneur Officer at 3D Systems. Fu grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution and moved to the United States in 1984. She co-founded Geomagic in 1997 with her then-husband Herbert Edelsbrunner, and has been recognized for her achievements with the company through a number of awards, including being named Inc. magazine's 2005 "Entrepreneur of the Year". In 2013, she published her memoir, Bend, Not Break, co-authored with MeiMei Fox.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Ping Fu was born in 1958 in Nanjing, China,[6][7] where her father was a professor at the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA).[8] Fu spent her childhood and early adulthood in China. She grew up during the Cultural Revolution, during which she was separated from both her parents for several years.[9][10] After the end of the Cultural Revolution, she attended the college that later became the Suzhou University[7][11] studying Chinese literature.[12] Fu has related in interviews and in her memoir that she chose to research China's one-child policy for her thesis and traveled to the countryside, where she found that infanticide of female infants was common, as was abortion, even late into pregnancy.[13][14] Fu said that, after turning in her research, she believes it was passed to a newspaper editor who wrote an editorial on the infanticide of female children.[11][15][better source needed] Fu has stated that she was later briefly imprisoned by government officials and was told to leave the country.[16][17] After this event, she left school, without graduating.[18]

Fu left China and arrived in the United States in January 1984.[10] She initially enrolled at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque[15] but later moved to San Diego to study computer science as an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego.[7] During her time in San Diego, Fu worked part-time at a software company called Resource Systems Group as a programmer and database software consultant.[19] Following her graduation from UC San Diego with a bachelor's degree in computer science, she moved to Illinois, where she took a job with Bell Labs.[7] The company offered a Ph.D assistance program, through which Fu enrolled in the computer science Ph.D program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). At UIUC she completed a master's degree in computer science.[20][21]


National Center for Supercomputing Applications[edit]

In the early 1990s, Fu began working at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at UIUC.[9][10] Her focus was on computer graphics and visualization,[21] including projects such as developing the morphing software for animation of the liquid metal T-1000 robot in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day.[13] While at NCSA, she hired student researcher Marc Andreessen and was his supervisor on the project developing NCSA's Mosaic, an early multimedia web browser credited with popularizing the World Wide Web.[13][22] According to her supervisor, Joseph Hardin, Fu was one of the managers involved in the discussions from which the idea for the browser was developed.[22] In 1994 Ping took a temporary position at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, returning to NCSA in 1995.[23]


In 1996, Marc Andreessen's success with his own company, Netscape, inspired UIUC to encourage entrepreneurship and Fu developed the idea for a company that would combine manufacturing and digital technology, including 3D modeling software, the concept of which she called the "Personal Factory".[24] She founded Geomagic with her then-husband, Herbert Edelsbrunner, whose research formed the basis for the initial software to be developed by the company. In 1997, she left the NCSA to begin operations at Geomagic, taking on the role of CEO.[6][10] The company was originally named Raindrop Geomagic[10] and was based in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.[7] It was founded with the aim of developing 3D imaging software that could enable customized manufacturing using 3D printers.[15] Initially, Fu and Edelsbrunner funded Geomagic themselves, along with investment from Fu's sister Hong and her husband, and later from a group of angel investors.[7]

In 1999, Fu relocated Geomagic from Illinois to the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. That year, Franklin Street Partners committed to invest $6.5 million in Geomagic.[7] Fu then hired an experienced executive as CEO who ran Geomagic for two years before stepping down when the company was close to bankruptcy.[15] Fu returned to the role of CEO in 2001, investing her own money into Geomagic and working without a salary in order to continue paying the company's employees. She was able to lead Geomagic back to stability, gaining a significant contract with Align Technology, and Geomagic returned to profitability over the following two years.[10]

From 2001 to 2003, Geomagic's sales tripled under Fu's leadership.[10] The company became known as a leader in digital shape sampling and processing.[7][25][26] After she and Edelsbrunner divorced,[27] he continued to serve as an advisor at Geomagic.[28]

In February 2013, Fu sold Geomagic to 3D Systems Corporation, a 3D printing company. She became the Chief Strategy Officer and Vice-President of 3D Systems.[2][3][29][30]

Other roles[edit]

In addition to leading Geomagic, Fu has held a number of advisory roles relating to technology and entrepreneurship and with charitable organizations. She has served on the U.S. National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship since 2010 and is also a member of the National Council on Women in Technology.[31] In 2012, she was appointed to the board of the Long Now Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on long-term thinking and enduring technology.[32] She also serves on the board of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina,[33] the board of Live Nation Entertainment[34] and is an advisor at Modern Meadow, an organization focused on tissue engineering.[35]


On December 31, 2012, Fu published a memoir, Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds.[36] Co-authored with MeiMei Fox, the book told the stories of her life, from her early childhood in China to her experiences as an entrepreneur, including founding and leading Geomagic.[37][38] The book received positive reviews from outlets including The Wall Street Journal[17] and[37]

Beginning in January 2013, commentors in the reviews for the memoir began posting critical reviews, accusing Fu of lying about events in her past.[17] Around the same time, first in English,[15] then in Chinese [39] on Forbes China, Forbes published an interview with Fu that discussed Fu's memoir and her early life, which contained an inaccurate interpretation of where Ping Fu lived during the cultural revolution.[40][41][42] Chinese netizens responded to the piece with criticisms regarding alleged fabrication of events and inconsistencies in media coverage of Fu,[40][43] which raised questions in the media about the veracity of details included in the memoir.[44] Chinese blogger Fang Zhouzi was among the critics[45] and he later raised further questions and criticisms based on earlier media coverage of Fu.[43] Following the initial criticisms from Fang Zhouzi and other critics, commentors appearing to be non-native English speakers knowledgeable about Chinese history posted hundreds of negative comments in the memoir's reviews, leading The Daily Beast and New York Times [46] to conclude that Ping was the subject of an online attack.[17][47]

Fu responded to the criticisms through a public statement,[48] and a post on the Huffington Post website answering questions that were raised about her childhood, education and being forced to leave China.[11] She acknowledged that there were some inaccuracies in the book.[27] She also acknowledged that the Red Guard atrocity she related in the memoir and media interviews regarding a teacher being pulled apart by four horses may have been an emotional memory, the result of hearing tales of such barbarity in old China as a child and having nightmares about it, or seeing it in a movie, rather than actually seeing it.[42][49][50] In response to questions about accuracy of details in the book, her publisher stated that the book is a memoir, rather than a journalistic account of the Cultural Revolution.[45][49] Fu has said that a second print of the memoir will correct inaccuracies that have been pointed out.[50]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

For her work with Geomagic, Fu has received a number of awards. In 2003 she was named the Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" for the Carolinas and received the Entrepreneurial Inspiration Award from North Carolina's Council for Entrepreneurial Development.[10] The following year, Fast Company named her a 2004 "Fast 50" winner.[10][51] In 2005, Inc. magazine named Ping its "Entrepreneur of the Year".[8]

The America China Business Women’s Alliance awarded Fu its "Business Innovation Award" in 2008[52] and she received the 2010 "Leadership Award" from the CAD Society.[51] The next year, she was given a "Lifetime Achievement" award by the Triangle Business Journal.[6] In 2011 she was given the William C. Friday Award at North Carolina State University,[53] and in 2012, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services named Fu as an "Outstanding American by Choice".[31]


  1. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, p. 13)
  2. ^ a b Lauren K. Ohnesorge (3 January 2013). "Geomagic's Ping Fu sells her company to S.C. partner". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b Matthew Hall (19 March 2013). "Bending with the winds of 3D change". The Age. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Manufacturing the Future: Investor Day Presentation" (PDF). 3D Systems. June 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  5. ^ Fu, Ping; Fox, Meimei (2013). Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds. ISBN 978-1591846819.
  6. ^ a b c Monica Chen (26 August 2011). "Ping Fu - Geomagic". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h John Brant (1 December 2005). "Entrepreneur of the Year: Ping Fu". Inc. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  8. ^ a b Rick Smith (January 2006). "American Dreams Do Come True". Raleigh Metro Magazine. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  9. ^ a b Marsha Walton (10 May 2010). "Geomagic's Ping Fu Rises in Tech Firmament". Women's eNews. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Going For Growth". Fast Company. 1 January 2003. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  11. ^ a b c Ping Fu (1 February 2013). "Clarifying the Facts in Bend, Not Break". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  12. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, p. 3)
  13. ^ a b c Kathleen Schalch (18 March 2006). "Ping Fu: Re-Creating The World In All Its Dimensions". NPR. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  14. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, pp. 253–254)
  15. ^ a b c d e Jenna Goudreau (23 January 2013). "One Woman's Journey From China's Cultural Revolution To Top American Tech Entrepreneur". Forbes. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  16. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, p. 255)
  17. ^ a b c d Harold Evans (11 February 2013). "The Persecution of Ping Fu". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  18. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, p. 258)
  19. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, pp. 66–67)
  20. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, p. 96)
  21. ^ a b Aronson, Deb (July 2007). "The Tao of Fu". Illinois Alumni Magazine. University of Illinois Alumni Association. Archived from the original on 2010-02-28.
  22. ^ a b Paul Andrews (5 October 1997). "Profit Without Honor". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  23. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, p. 131)
  24. ^ Fu & Fox (2012, pp. 134, 149–152)
  25. ^ James Hilton (May 2008). "AI Interview with Ping Fu, president and CEO of Geomagic Inc". Automotive Industries. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  26. ^ "NCWIT Interview with Ping Fu" (PDF). National Center for Women & Information Technology. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  27. ^ a b Didi Kirsten Tatlow (20 February 2013). "True or False? The Tussle Over Ping Fu's Memoir". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  28. ^ "Advisors". Geomagic. 2013. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  29. ^ "3D Systems Releases Geomagic Designer Packages". 2013-04-25. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  30. ^ "People at DDD - Executives, Board & Key Employees at 3D Systems Corp. -". Retrieved 2013-05-28.
  31. ^ a b "2012 Outstanding American by Choice Recipients". U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  32. ^ "Ping Fu joins the Long Now board". Long Now Foundation. 26 March 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  33. ^ "Ping Fu". University of North Carolina. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  34. ^ "Dana Walden Joins Live Nation Board". Hollywood Reporter. 8 June 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  35. ^ "Advisors". Modern Meadow. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  36. ^ "About: Bend, Not Break". Penguin Group USA. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  37. ^ a b Leigh Newman. "New Memoirs So Powerful They'll Turn Your Life Inside Out". Harpo Productions. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  38. ^ Melanie Kirkpatrick (8 January 2013). "The Art Of Resilience". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  39. ^ Jenna Goudreau (25 January 2013). "从文化大革命到高科技企业家:傅苹的人生路". Forbes.
  40. ^ a b Jenna Goudreau (31 January 2013). "'Bend, Not Break' Author Ping Fu Responds To Backlash". Forbes. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  41. ^ Russell Flannery (31 January 2013). "One Bold And Controversial Lady: "Bend, Not Break" Author Ping Fu". Forbes. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  42. ^ a b Philip Sherwell (10 February 2013). "Chinese-American tech boss Ping Fu denies inventing Cultural Revolution horrors". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  43. ^ a b Josh Rudolph (7 February 2013). "Ping Fu Defends Memoir After Chinese Netizens Attack". China Digital Times. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  44. ^ Tania Branigan; Ed Pilkington (13 February 2013). "Ping Fu's childhood tales of China's cultural revolution spark controversy". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  45. ^ a b Felicity Capon (5 February 2013). "Doubts over Chinese author lauded by Michelle Obama". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  46. ^ JOE NOCERA (28 June 2013). "Cultural Revolution Vigilantes". New York Times. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  47. ^ Katie Baker (4 February 2013). "Ping Fu Defends 'Bend, Not Break' Memoir Against Online Chinese Attack". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  48. ^ Ping Fu (1 February 2013). "Sad, But Not Broken". Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  49. ^ a b Tania Branigan; Ed Pilkington (4 February 2013). "Chinese cast doubt over executive's rags to riches tale". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  50. ^ a b Didi Kirsten Tatlow (20 February 2013). "Ensnared in the Trap of Memory". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
  51. ^ a b "CAD Society Announces Ping Fu of Geomagic as Winner of the 2010 CAD Society Leadership Award". Computer Graphics World. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  52. ^ Tyler O'Neal (6 November 2008). "Ping Fu of Geomagic receives innovation award". SC Online News. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  53. ^ "William C. Friday Award". 23 February 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  • Fu, Ping; Fox, MeiMei (2012). Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds. Portfolio Hardcover. p. 288. ISBN 978-1591845522.