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2012 Young Alumni Achievement Award

Sizhou "Zao" Yang
Sizhou "Zao" Yang

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Zao Yang (BS '05) worked as an IT specialist at IBM for nearly a year before starting Mocha Soft LLC (eventually renamed to MyMiniLife, Inc.) with several Illinois classmates.

At Zynga, Yang continued to work on FarmVille, designed the FarmVille iPhone application, launched FarmVille.com, and worked on corporate development deals including Microsoft, Yahoo, Zynga Japan, and Zynga domestic, as well as international corporate strategy. Yang left Zynga in 2010 to start a new company, BetterWorks, which offered tools to help businesses manage discounts and rewards programs for employees.

Today, Yang is an advisor to SV Angel, a San Francisco-based firm that helps startups with business development, financing, M&A and other strategic advice.