How Eric Yuan 'Zoom'ed His Way To Build a $50-Billion Business

Since the worldwide lockdown, Zoom has fast become ingrained in the everyday lexicon-a tool for royals, politicians, broadcasters and everybody else

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The coronavirus pandemic has bruised and battered many technology startups, but it has also boosted a few. One such company is Zoom, which kept many of connected to one another in the midst of remote work and social distancing.

Zoom
Eric Yuan, founder, Zoom

During the last month few months, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has become ubiquitous. More than 200 million people used Zoom daily during March, according to the company’s blog post.

But accommodating so many users was an uphill task. According to Zoom Video Communications Inc.’s founder and chief executive Eric Yuan: “The goal was simple, a better service bringing happiness back to customers who want next generation communication, meaning they want to have better video collaboration experts. When I started, we already knew that video is the new voice and video communication will become a mainstream service in the future. That is why we made sure that our architecture is right. It was the first cloud-based video architecture in the world. We wanted to make sure that we can scale our business to have a customer base of millions, to be able to leverage the public cloud like Amazon, Oracle Cloud.”

Launched in 2011, Zoom has enjoyed popularity as a seamless video-conferencing service, mostly for businesses. It normally has about 10 million free and paid daily users. Most of the new users are on Zoom for free—schools, local communities, and even friends hosting virtual happy hours.

Zoom is the go-to videoconferencing option for large swathes of the global population. And while no one, least of all tech companies were able to predict the pandemic and the seismic impact it would have on our ways of working and the technology we use, the platform never buckled under pressure.

Freemium or paid-for and regardless of reliability Internet services are held to higher standards of data privacy and security than ever. That is especially true for those at the top of the pile and, suddenly elevated to the top of the coronavirus survival kit, Zoom faced a rigorous wake-up call.

Addressing the disputes concerning safety concerns, Yuan said, “Zoom was built to cater to the business customers and we’ve brought a lot of security features to address the concerns. This pandemic completely changed our user base dynamics, we had a lot of first time users but we have never served K-12 students before, so we decided to give free services to a lot of schools as part of our corporate social responsibility. We served it to more than 100,000 schools in 25 countries, including India.”

He added, “We had a good intention. As a CEO, the biggest mistake I made was not realizing that there were no IT security features in the school packages, most of them did not have to enter any meeting ID or password. I realized that we have to offer not only the package, but has also played a role in IT security. We then enforced a proper meeting ID, passwords to ensure their privacy is protected.”

Yuan was discussing the current issues and long-term trends likely to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic at an online forum Keynote Session on India Internet Day, moderated by TiE Delhi-NCR president Rajan Anandan.

According to Yuan, vision for Zoom is to become a platform where developers and companies can build all kinds of applications. “It is basically a video conferencing infrastructure service and last but not the least, we want to introduce more new services in the future. Imagine the world fast forwarded to 2040, a lot of artificial intelligence backed features like real time language translation and more excitingly, if a person wants to shake hands to the person on the screen and for that person to feel the same will become a reality in the future.”