By O. Lotufo
Zoom is a communications technology company focused on video chats and meetings; its headquarters are in San Jose, California (Silicon Valley). Eric Yuan is the founder and current CEO of Zoom, owning 22% of the company and having an estimated net worth of US$ 8.3 billion (according to Forbes); he was born in China, but now lives in Santa Clara, California, with his wife and three children.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Zoom has served as an essential tool to many schools, companies, etc. as an application allowing others to have meetings and keep in touch virtually whilst quarantined. Subsequently, Zoom has seen vast user growth since December: its 10 million clientele (January of 2020) has experienced an increase in just five months and now reached 300 million daily Zoom meeting participants. In addition, there has also been a massive growth in the company’s revenue, going from US$ 622 million last year (2019) to now being worth US$ 48.8 billion.
In perspective to the rest of the economic world, as Zoom’s profit grew exponentially throughout the last months, the biggest airlines in the world have plummeted with the recent flight restrictions and airports closing due to COVID-19. This has resulted in a huge decrease in profit from the world’s biggest airlines; Delta’s market capitalization was of $35.68B in January of 2020 but is now at $12.30B. When put together, the world’s 7 largest airlines by revenue (including American Airlines, United, Southwest, Delta, International Airlines Group, Lufthansa and Air France) have collectively experienced a 62% fall in total value from January to May of 2020. Thus, Zoom is currently worth more than these airlines combined: Zoom’s total net worth is of $48.8 B, the airlines just $46.21 B.
But what makes Zoom stand out from other virtual communication platforms like Microsoft Teams and Skype? Its appeal comes greatly from its “easy-to-use” interface, as users are able to invite other participants simply by sending a link via email or other messaging applications. Also, it is capable of having up to 100 participants in one call, and up to 1000 if paid for. It has also become widely popular for educational purposes, especially since Eric Yuan (CEO) decided to ensure that K-12 (from kindergarten to grade 12) schools in the Unites States can have free access to the platform.
However, its popularity hasn’t come without incidents. One of the company’s main issues is named “Zoom Bombing”, which consists of unexpected and uninvited people hijacking and disrupting meetings, breaching users’ privacy and resulting in the app’s security measures being questioned. This has led many schools and businesses to favour alternative platforms over Zoom.
Despite Zoom’s immense success in the age of quarantine, these incidents raise several questions about its future as a prosperous company. Most notably, will it continue to strive throughout this social-distancing period, or will it fall as we slowly ease back into our “normal lives”?