Wu is born John Flynt in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She is adopted. Her father is a Navy-trained obstetrician who founded a chain of women’s health centers. Her mother has a degree in microbiology and a passion for computers; she stayed home to take care of Wu. She has two younger siblings.
Her father supports her interest in technology by sending her to classes and buying hardware. She says she followed her father’s extreme conservative views in an effort to bond with him, including attending church as often as three times a week. Of her hometown:
Every part of my body is screaming that this is not right, this is not normal, this is not a good place to live. I don’t fit in with anyone there. So I end up just tuning completely out, which is why I have such good computer skills. Video games were the world that I cared about.