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Zoom: Cultivating Human Connection in a Digital World

In the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people turned to the Zoom digital communication platform each day to connect with colleagues, friends, and family. Collaboration has always been key to human survival, and Zoom offered a digitized human experience that let people continue to build their business and, equally importantly, connect with each other with trust, humor, and love despite the sudden closure of businesses, offices, and schools as communities went into pandemic lockdowns.

Founded in 2011, Zoom grew from an idea for sustaining founder Eric Yuan’s long-distance relationship to become the top player in the digital communications arena in 2020, with nearly a 45 percent share of the increasingly competitive video communications market and 350 million daily meeting participants worldwide. The case study explores the founding principles of Zoom, and its reliance on a cornerstone of developing and nurturing trust—both with its customers as well as internally, with its own workforce. That also meant dealing with missteps frankly in the pursuit of frictionless service as demand for Zoom conferences rose dramatically during the 2020 pandemic.

Learning Objective

zoom company case study

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Digital Innovation and Transformation

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  • Assignment: Digital Winners during the…

How Zoom Won the Pandemic

Zoom is an unambiguous winner in the COVID-19 era. This blog post dives into why Zoom succeeded while its competitors stumbled, how zoom creates and captures value, and what the future may hold for this software company.

When was the last time you ZOOMed into a meeting and thought, god I miss people? Zoom Video Conferencing, or just “Zoom” for short, is one of the most unambiguous winners of this pandemic. We’ve all used it, and the company’s share price reflects this, with more than a 500% increase at its peak, from the mid-march pre pandemic numbers. Figure 1 below shows Zoom’s stratospheric rise over the past year.

Figure 1- Zoom share price history.

zoom company case study

Although digital teleconferencing is self-evidently a powerful safety and productivity tool during a pandemic where human contact can lead to infection or death, what is less clear is why zoom specifically succeeded so emphatically. For example, Skype, a competing video conferencing platform owned by Microsoft, was the incumbent player. Comedian Hasan Minhaj said it best in his Netflix comedy show:

“By the way Skype, how did you drop the ball here? This was your moment! You had a 17-year head start, and Zoom ate your lunch in two weeks. You’re a verb no one does! Your friend will be like, “Let me Skype you….. Cool send me the Zoom link”

Pathways to a Just Digital Future

-Hasan Minhaj ,Patriot Act, Volume 6, What happens if you Can’t Pay Rent?

Skype’s fall from grace is mostly linked to the company’s mismanagement since Microsoft’s acquisition in 2011, however, the essence of the issue came down to the product’s ease of use, and quality [1]. Whereas Skype focused on adding features more akin to Snapchat, rather than focusing on the core capability of video conferencing, Zoom’s developers were focused on creating the best possible video conferencing tool. Zoom’s slicker, easier to use, and generally higher quality/more stable product is why it was able to take the video conferencing crown [2].

We’ve established that the core product capabilities are superior, but how exactly does zoom create and capture value? Let’s start with how the product/service generates value for its customers. The ease of use of the platform is as simple as a few clicks. Everyone from children, to baby boom grandparents find the user interface to be seamless and easy. Furthermore, the platform allows for easy group meetings with video tiles arranged in a visually pleasing way, the ability to take polls, ask questions, raise hands, write on a digital whiteboard, and even react with emojis. These features allow digital meetings to run smoothly and efficiently on stable platform. Now let’s look at how Zoom makes money.

Zoom uses a Freemium and Software as a Service (SaaS) business model where businesses and organizations like HBS, pay a periodic subscription fee to give them access to more advanced features like hosting longer and larger meeting which is critical for longer business meetings or academic settings[3]. The free version allows user to get to know and use the product before committing. The 45 minute maximum meeting times  in the free version and limits on the number of participants quickly becomes a constraint , thus enabling  Zoom to convert many free users into paying users. This was in stark contrast to Evernote, another freemium company who gave too much away in their free version.

As vaccines are rolled out globally, the end of the pandemic appears to be within sight as we round the corner, however, Zoom is uniquely well positioned to continue to grow and capture value for two primary reasons.

Firstly, the cat is out of the bag. Knowledge workers around the world have been working from home for almost a year, and while many miss the office, a sizable fraction have never been happier, especially people who had long commutes. The pandemic forced companies to digitize far more quickly then they would have otherwise with a Mckinsey survey indicating that “…companies acted 20 to 25 times faster than expected. In the case of remote working, respondents actually say their companies moved 40 times more quickly than they thought possible before the pandemic.[4]”  Employers will be hard pressed to return their workers to full time in person work, the likely long term trend is for more employee choice in terms of where they will work [5].

Secondly, the company’s brand awareness has spiked since the pandemic has hit, and the company has developed a lot of Goodwill with its customers. As mentioned before, Skype has been dethroned. Figure 2 below shows Zoom’s absolute dominance in terms of google search trends when compared to other major players in the video conferencing space. The google search trends can be used as a barometer for brand awareness.

Figure 2- Google search trends for major video conferencing products.

zoom company case study

In conclusion, Zoom’s focus on creating the best video conferencing product, combined with a complimentary business model and strong societal trends uniquely positions the company to continue to generate huge shareholder value, while helping businesses, schools, and other organizations continue their operations regardless of status of the pandemic.

[1] Kingsley-Hughes, Adrian. 2021. “Why Are We All Zooming And Not Skyping? | Zdnet”.  Zdnet . https://www.zdnet.com/article/why-are-we-all-zooming-and-not-skyping/.

[2] Stokel-Walker, Chris. 2021. “How Skype Lost Its Crown To Zoom”.  WIRED UK . https://www.wired.co.uk/article/skype-coronavirus-pandemic.

[3] “The Zoom Business Model – How Does Zoom Make Money?”. 2021.  Productmint . https://productmint.com/the-zoom-business-model-how-does-zoom-make-money/#:~:text=The%20business%20model%20of%20Zoom,due%20to%20its%20product’s%20superiority.

[4] “How COVID-19 Has Pushed Companies Over The Technology Tipping Point—And Transformed Business Forever”. 2021.  Mckinsey . https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-covid-19-has-pushed-companies-over-the-technology-tipping-point-and-transformed-business-forever.

[5] “Reimagining The Office And Work Life After COVID-19”. 2021.  Mckinsey . https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/reimagining-the-office-and-work-life-after-covid-19.

Student comments on How Zoom Won the Pandemic

The question of “why Zoom” has been really interesting to me during this pandemic. It seems like Microsoft had such a clear advantage with Skype, and even Cisco with Webex seems to have had a better starting point than Zoom. These were acquisitions made for $8.5B and $3.2B respectively, so it seemed like both Microsoft and Cisco were willing to make substantial investments in video conferencing. I have periodically checked to see what the drivers were of Zoom’s success over competitors, waiting to see a behind the scenes look into some brilliant marketing or distribution channels, but it really just seems to come down to Zoom having a better technological product! In particular, what seems to have set them up for success was not just ease of use, but more specifically ease of access. In a global pandemic with tons of new users looking for any solution, having a one-click solution that doesn’t require an account became a real advantage. To me, the success of Zoom really does feel like an argument for specialization and focus over corporate synergies and investment dollars.

As Zoom was becoming a household name at the onset of the pandemic, the company was also grappling with a class action lawsuit that many users are blissfully unaware of. Zoom was quietly sending user data with Facebook, even for Zoom users who do not have a Facebook account, in violation of California’s Consumer Privacy Act. Zoom allegedly removed the data-sharing feature in newer versions of the app, but questions into the company’s use of data remain. When companies in the technology arena grow as quickly as Zoom has, typically privacy, data responsibility, and security suffer. I think it is important that we continue to keep an eye on Zoom’s privacy policies and data usage because, to your point, the use-cases for this app are expanding from business meetings and academic and into private social meet-ups and more.

Read the full complaint here: https://www.cyberscoop.com/zoom-lawsuit-facebook-california-privacy-ccpa/

At the beginning of that crazy year, I personally do not even remember how I downloaded and started using Zoom. I do not even remember what occasion made me download it. Now I realize that it was so smooth and organic, any other use of tools (Teams, Google) seems like an exception, whereas Zoom becomes a standard tool for communications. However, I would love to have more filtering features (like blurring) in Zoom but maybe I am just a bad lazy non-educated user. 🙂

Very helpful analysis of the video conferencing platform that we all used almost every day since March 2020! I’m very interested in seeing how Zoom will position after the pandemic, for example I’m curious to see whether it will add extra features aimed at improving internal communication or task coordination within organizations, similar to Microsoft Team or Trello.

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The Strategy Story

Market Differentiation: Zoom’s Growth Strategy

No one could have thought how life would change overnight. It has been a challenging year for everyone. But we humans are adaptable creatures and try to fit into a different environment or any situation.

Although initially, the idea of working or studying or be it any activity which we had to do from home was horrifying. The Pandemic did bring many difficulties and challenges during the year, but due to incredible technological advancements, we humans were usually able to carry on our lives (almost). One such Application that helped us survive during the Pandemic was Zoom. For anyone who wanted to talk to somebody, the phrase that would automatically come out is ‘Let’s talk on Zoom.’

Humble Beginnings

Eric Yuan initially founded zoom Video Communication (more famously known as just ZOOM) on April 21, 2011. Eric left Cisco in April 2011 along with 40 engineers to start a new company initially named Saasbee, Inc.

The organization faced difficulties finding investors since many thought the video telephony market was already saturated. It was only in May 2012; the organization changed its name to Zoom. The name was influenced by Thacher Hurd’s children’s book  Zoom City.  

In August 2012, Zoom launched the first version of its product , which allowed up to 15 people to video chat at once. 

The first two years, the company just had a small team (mostly engineers from WebEx). There were still few people other than the engineering group that Yuan took it upon himself to email any user who canceled the subscription. He said he would try and get them on a Zoom call to talk through their problems and see how he could fix them. One of the first customers of Zoom was Stanford University in November 2012. 

Before the Pandemic happened, many didn’t like the idea of a video calling tool, but everything changed overnight when people were forced to stay inside and carry on with their daily work. Soon it became the most downloaded apps.

What strategy helped Zoom differentiate in the sea of business conferencing applications?

Whenever the word Videoconferenceing would come up, the first thing that comes up in a person’s mind is downloading the software and understanding how to set it up along with many other complicated IT-related processes. But Zoom is different. Anyone could just send the invitation, and it would quickly launch the meeting. 

In 2013, around 3 million people participated in a Zoom meeting, whereas in 2014, Zoom had 30 million meeting participants. But it grew to 100 million in 2015. But in 2020, it experienced 200 million meetings every day .

The free version of Zoom can host up to 100 video participants at once, whereas Microsoft ( MSFT )-owned Skype’s free model allows for 50. It also features personalized tools, including the ability to pick different backgrounds, change the camera angles, hold encrypted private calls, send direct messages, and record sessions.

Another reason for it becoming so popular and giving it an edge is its user-friendly nature. People don’t need a login to access a meeting, and the interface is relatively intuitive. People started using up the service to keep in touch with friends, Family, conduct corporate meetings, and even host weddings, which had become quite a trend for some time. 

The app also provided  a built-in beautification filter , one of several services that further helped to stand out. Educational Institutions around the world also moved towards the platform to conduct classes online. 

Also, the app focused on large MNC’s such as the University of Sydney and Wells Fargo. Employees back at work found their own video conferencing tool difficult, whereas Zoom was user-friendly, smooth, and free zoom accounts. Therefore there was pressure on corporate IT to change their video-conferencing. 

Pandemic Effect: Power Booster to Zoom’s Business Strategy

On March 23, the time when countries were going under a lockdown, Zoom was downloaded 2.13 million times worldwide, from 2.04 million the day before, as per the app tracking firm Apptopia. Two months earlier, the app just had less than 56,000 global downloads a day.

Infographic: Zoom's Revenue Skyrockets On Pandemic Boost | Statista

It was found that the mobile app for Zoom was installed about 3.7 times more than Skype’s and 8.6 times more than Google Hangouts, therefore becoming the most favorite video calling app from March 2020 onwards.

The largest and fastest-growing market for Zoom are:- 

Due to an increase in the daily meetings in March 2020, Zoom’s stocks experienced a boost during the Pandemic, despite a turndown in the stock market. It experienced a massive jump from $70 in January to $150 in March (almost double of its original). By June 2020, the value of the company was $67 billion. 

zoom company case study

Zoom became the most well-known video-conferencing app during the COVID-19 after gaining about 635 % in 2020. The nine-year-old app’s (Zoom) market crossed $140 billion in October 2020, surpassing Exxon Mobile, which was 130 years old. But it did experience a fall of more than 15% when the news broke in November 2020 about the vaccine’s efficiency. It was in January 2021 only that Zoom again raised $2 billion but through a common stock offering. 

Zoom 2019 market cap: $18.8B Airlines 2019 market cap: $78.1B Zoom current market cap: $44.5B Airlines current market cap: $27.0B Note: Airlines includes Delta, United, American and Jet Blue. — Will Hershey 🟢 (@maybebullish) March 23, 2020

Way Forward: Zoom’s growth Strategy

It now appears that Zoom has started expanding its footing across industries quickly as the coronavirus pandemic continues. For example,the company offers  its services to K-12 schools  for no charge in various countries like UAE, Germany, Canada, the UK, and the US. It also waived its monthly charge to all users in China.

Moreover, Zoom introduced a new accessibility feature to make the app more comfortable to use in September 2020 for those who have hearing or visually impaired. This included moving around the video windows in the gallery view, pin video windows to be spotlighted, improved keyboard shortcuts, new tools to adjust the size of closed captioning text, and sign language interpreters’ windows who can sit directly next to the speaker. 

Today Zoom has become one of the most successful and used applications in the world. Nine years ago, no one had heard of such an application, let alone imagine how it would contribute to helping humanity to survive and move on with their lives during the Pandemic. Today you can find the application on almost every device.  

According to  the 2020 Businesses @ Work report from Okta notes, “Zoom was the #1 fastest growing video conferencing app in 2016, and it hasn’t slowed down since. Over the past three years, Zoom has enjoyed an astounding 876% growth in number of customers in our network. For comparison, second-place Cisco Webex grew 91% over that same period.”

One of the major reasons that Zoom became successful is because of its easy accessibility. A customer (or a user) would use the product the more it is available to him/her. Everyone can use the application no matter how they can access or connect to the internet. This helped various people to use Zoom creatively.

With Zoom’s 4 word motto ‘Make Communication Frictionless’ , It certainly did smooth the communication process. In fact, so many weddings were also held through zoom. Anyways I will end the article here since I need to attend Zoom Meeting. Ciao!

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The 3 Secrets Behind Zoom’s Triple-Digit Growth

zoom company case study

Until recently, you might only have heard of the video conferencing tool Zoom if you worked in the tech industry.

But since the spread of the coronavirus caused so much of the world to adopt work from home policies , Zoom has become almost synonymous with its function. Just like Google and Uber are now verbs, so is Zoom.

At Drift, Zoom had already become our go-to tool for running company meetings when we couldn’t meet in person. We’ve even built an integration for Zoom and Drift Video .

And based on the critical need it now serves, Zoom has evolved from an already-successful IPO to a stock market juggernaut worth more than Uber and Lyft combined. According to market intelligence firm SensorTower , first-time installations of Zoom’s mobile app have skyrocketed 728% since March 2, 2020.

zoom company case study

In its fourth-quarter and fiscal 2020 earnings report around the same time, Zoom said its customer base had also grown to 81,900 firms with more than 10 employees, which is an increase of 61% since the same time last year. Its stock price has surged more than 100% since the outbreak began.

To support that growth, Zoom has built offices in San Jose, Santa Barbara, Denver, Atlanta, Kansas City, Sydney, London, Paris, Tokyo, and Amsterdam. Overall, the company now employs more than 2,000 people.

Years after attracting funding from venture capitalists, Zoom has proven itself as a “unicorn,” as their market cap has now stretched beyond $40.3 billion. (Although here’s a fun fact: Zoom’s founder and CEO Eric Yuan hates the term “unicorn,” and tells Zoom employees not to use it ).

Though the spread of COVID-19 made Zoom’s service as essential to working as internet access, the company had already laid the foundation for its current success with consistently strong growth.

What did it do, and what can you learn? Read on to put Zoom’s current success in context.

The 3 Keys to Zoom’s Growth

Long before its IPO last year, there were three key components of its growth strategy that helped give Zoom a competitive advantage.

  • Being customer-driven is ingrained in Zoom’s company DNA.
  • Zoom is building a product that can sell itself.
  • Zoom isn’t afraid to splurge when it comes to building their brand.

Let’s explore each of these components of Zoom’s growth strategy in more detail…

1) Being customer-driven is ingrained in Zoom’s DNA.

When it comes to building video conferencing software, this isn’t Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan’s first rodeo.

Eric left Beijing to become one of the founding engineers at Webex back in 1997. As Webex’s VP of Engineering, he helped grow the team from 10 to more than 800 engineers worldwide.

When Webex was acquired by Cisco in 2007 for $3.2 billion, Eric went on to become Cisco’s VP of Engineering. And that’s when things took a turn…

Under new management, the innovation that had been driving Webex came to a halt. And Eric was growing increasingly dissatisfied with the outdated product they were delivering to customers.

As he explained to Forbes :

I was paid very well as a VP at Cisco. But Webex was my baby. In 2010 and 2011, I did not see happy customers. I was very embarrassed that I spent so much time on the technology. Why are the customers not happy?

Frustrated that Cisco’s management wouldn’t address the issue and update their strategy, Eric left in 2011.

But he didn’t leave alone. Around 40 engineers left with him. And together they went and built Zoom.

After conducting an internal survey, Zoom discovered that their engineering team has more than 1,000 years of combined experience building video conferencing and real-time collaboration software.

Since day one, the team at Zoom has been focused on solving for the customer, and – more specifically – they’ve been focused on building video communication tools that actually work (and don’t make you want to pull your hair out).

 To quote Eric :

From the moment we founded Zoom, our main focus has been to provide a cloud video communications solution that would make customers happy. That focus has continued to guide all our innovations, partnerships, and other initiatives. The fantastic growth we’re experiencing and the many industry accolades we’ve received can all be attributed to having satisfied customers that enjoy using our platform.

2) Zoom built a product that can sell itself.

When Eric decided to leave Cisco (and his “baby” Webex) behind to start a competing video conferencing solution, everyone told him he was crazy.

The main issue people pointed to: It was a crowded market. In addition to Cisco, there were several other established players including Microsoft, Adobe, Citrix, and Polycom, as well as newcomers like Highfive, Join.Me, BlueJeans Network, and Vidyo.

Eric’s solution for breaking free from the competition was simple:

Zoom would build the best product in the market.

As he told Forbes :

It’s extremely crowded, but the potential is huge. If our product is better than any others, we can survive.

So, how do you go about building a product that’s better than all the others? Refer back to the previous section: It’s all about being customer-driven.

As Nick Chong, Zoom’s Head of Global Services (and former Head of Product Marketing) explained:

We have a relentless focus on making the best product with the best user experience. This is ultimately what every customer wants. Toward this end, we spend much of our time listening to customers and fine-tuning our software to fit their needs.

At Zoom, gathering – and acting on – customer feedback is how they’ve been able to build a best-in-class product. And in many cases, the Zoom team gathers this feedback via Zoom video meetings. (Talk about eating your own dog food).

Zoom also regularly monitors its Net Promoter Score (NPS) , which currently stands at an industry-leading 72 .

But it’s not just the quality of their product that gives Zoom a competitive advantage, it’s also how they deliver that product:

Zoom’s video conferencing features are free for everyone to use – up to 40 minutes, that is. (FYI: Zoom decided on 40 minutes because research showed that 45 minutes was the ideal duration for a video conference.)

But clearly this 40-minute limit hasn’t deterred people from trying the product. In fact, their freemium model, coupled with word-of-mouth, is really what has been powering their customer acquisition. That will only continue given Zoom’s decision in March 2020 to remove the 40-minute limit for free accounts at tens of thousands of schools in the U.S. and other countries.

As Eric explained during an interview with SaaStr :

In our case, we really want to get the customers to test our product. This market is extremely crowded. It’s really hard to tell customers, “You’ve got to try Zoom.” Without a freemium product, I think you’re going to lose the opportunity to let many users to test your products. We make our freemium product work so well. We give most of our features for free and one-to-one is no limitation. That’s why almost every day there are so many users coming to our website, free users. If they like our product, very soon they are going to pay for the subscription.

To help you get a better sense of just how many people have been using Zoom over the years, consider this:

In 2013, 3 million people participated in a Zoom meeting.

In 2014, Zoom had 30 million meeting participants.

In 2015, it grew to 100 million.

zoom company case study

And in March 2020, Zoom reported more than 200 million meeting participants every single day .

Ultimately, this organic product adoption is what got Sequoia interested in leading Zoom’s latest funding round. As a Sequoia spokesperson told TechCrunch :

We had been watching the video conferencing space for many years because we were convinced that it was a huge market primed for innovation. But we couldn’t find a product that customers loved to use. That changed when our portfolio companies started raving to us about Zoom.

3) Zoom isn’t afraid to splurge when it comes to building their brand.

zoom company case study

As we just learned in the previous section, a key aspect of Zoom’s growth strategy has been to let their product do most of the talking.

“The best salespeople join us because our product is easy for them to sell,” Eric once said .

So from a marketing perspective, Zoom hasn’t been focused on aggressively chasing down prospects. Instead, they’ve been focused on getting the Zoom brand out in front of as many eyeballs as possible. And they started by targeting one key group:

Early adopters.

As Nick (Zoom’s former Head of Product Marketing, current Head of Global Services) explained :

As an emerging vendor, we had to focus on marketing to the curious, adventurous bunch known as early adopters. This allows us to leverage our greatest advantage – user experience – because once an early adopter uses a product they love, they will spread the word.

So, where do you find a bunch of these potential early adopters for your product?

The answer: Sitting in traffic on Route 101, of course – right in the heart of Silicon Valley.

So Zoom made the decision to fork over the cash and put up a billboard. And then they decided to put up another billboard. And another. (And just a quick FYI: each one of these billboards can cost north of $50,000 per month .)

These billboards mark the one exception to Zoom’s typically frugal marketing strategy.

For example, even when they have vendor booths at conferences and events, the Zoom team doesn’t spend thousands on decking out their setup or creating promotional materials – they simply put their *live* product up on some HD screens and let people experience it for themselves.

So, why is the investment in billboards worth it? Here’s how Eric explains it :

It’s to promote our brand. It’s hard to market a brand within a short period of time. After we had our first billboard, my neighbor, she told me that, “I saw your billboard.” I think, wow, this is great.” Then I told our marketing team, “Let’s have another one.” Soon, a lot of other people they say, “We saw your billboard.” OK, “Let’s add a third one.”

As you can see, there really isn’t any hard science at work here. It’s an exercise in pure brand awareness. It’s about making the Zoom name and logo a part of the fabric of the Bay Area (and beyond).

Another way Zoom is getting their brand out there?


zoom company case study

In 2016, Zoom worked out a three-year deal with the Golden State Warriors, where the team gets to use their technology for free and, in exchange, Zoom gets prominent branding inside the arena during games (on scoreboards, digital signs, etc.).

Eric told CNBC that this type of brand exposure “actually speeds up sales cycles,” because it gives people who are thinking about trying or buying Zoom any extra boost of confidence.

So, how successful has Zoom’s approach to brand-building been? It’s hard to tell. But using Twitter followers as our measuring stick, it’s clear that people are interested in what Zoom is up to.

zoom company case study

The Zoom brand is now at one million followers, infinitely far ahead of Webex’s brand in terms of mindshare.

Final thought: Why you should strive for hypergrowth (not out-of-control growth).

As Zoom — a company that went from $0 to billions in less than a decade — it’s easy to look back and think:

“Wow, they must have had the pedal to the metal the entire time!”

But here’s the thing.

Throughout Zoom’s impressive growth, Eric’s foot was always there to tap the brakes. As he explained to SaaStr , keeping their existing customers happy has always come first – even if that means slowing down occasionally.

Ultimately, we do not want to grow too fast. Our philosophy is we really focus on making our existing customer happy. We do not aggressively pursue the new prospect. Also, we always prioritize the features requested by our existing customers … We truly believe if you do not make the existing customer happy, even if you get more new prospects, it may not be sustainable.

That grounded approach will be more important than ever now, given that Zoom is helping keep so much of the world connected during one of the biggest global challenges of all time.

Editor’s Note: This article was published in November 2017 and has been updated to reflect new information.

Want to drive Zoom-level growth for your business? START HERE .


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Financial Services

Capital One

A connected, collaborative workforce drives innovation at capital one.

Capital One relies on leading video technology to connect global teams, hire faster, and create new solutions for its customers.

Founded: 1994

Location: ​​McLean, Virginia

Industry: Financial services

Challenges: Enabling flexible, dynamic communication for a globally dispersed hybrid workforce, maintaining recruiting efforts during the pandemic

Solutions: Zoom Rooms, Zoom Meetings

Benefits: Equitable, dynamic communication and collaboration for both remote and on-site teams, reduced costs and streamlined deployment of conference rooms, expanded recruiting reach and engagement

We’re highly collaborative, we’re people-centered, we’re interested in moving ourselves and our goals to the next level. Zoom is, I believe, the ideal tool to suit the culture that we are and that we strive to be at Capital One.

Nikita Steals

Innovation is a central part of Capital One’s DNA. This financial services leader has embraced digital transformation throughout its journey. From its humble beginnings as a startup to a top 10 U.S. bank, innovation has been critical to Capital One’s success.

Capital One strives to create new, innovative solutions that empower its customers to take control of their personal finances. The Zoom communications platform helps to power that work.

A technology-forward, people-centered organization, Capital One uses Zoom to provide premium employee and candidate experiences by:

  • Connecting global teams and enabling efficient collaboration
  • Enhancing inclusivity in the workplace
  • Reimagining its talent programs through virtual recruiting

Embracing the future of work

Capital One makes it a priority to offer its employees the latest and greatest technology solutions. After Capital One pivoted to remote and hybrid work in response to global health challenges, the organization focused on using technology to further empower employees to collaborate and innovate in new ways. 

“Flexibility is key to how people and teams within the company work,” said Fred Love, Director of Unified Communications and Collaboration at Capital One. “We have teams that are co-located and teams that are geographically dispersed, so with that, we need solutions that support all those different work types. As we look at the future, and where we are going, it’s going to be key to make sure that everyone is at the table.”

To better serve its customers and create new solutions, Capital One is always searching for the right talent. However, hosting in-person recruiting events required a significant investment of time and effort. It also left very little time for potential candidates and the recruiting team to get to know each other. 

“You would assemble sizable teams, and you would plan these very large in-person events and trips to a variety of colleges and universities,” said John Keegan, Senior Director of Recruiting at Capital One. “And it’s a pretty restrictive time period in which students would interact with us and other employers.” 

“Tech candidates, because of the demand, are folks that have very limited time,” added Nikita Steals, Vice President of Tech Talent Acquisition at Capital One. “We need to be agile, we need to be able to move quickly and have the interface where they can build rapport and build that human element with ease.”

“At the start of 2020, we were contemplating starting to shift over just a portion of our recruiting events to virtual,” Keegan said. “When we started to introduce Zoom, what that allowed us to do is virtually be there and interact in many of the same ways that we would interact in person.”   

Empowering new ways of working 

When Capital One adopted Zoom as part of an enterprise-wide digital transformation, it took off among employees.

“Zoom was the easiest part of [our digital transformation] — it was the intuitive nature of the experience,” added Melanie Frank, Managing Vice President, Cyber Engineering, at Capital One. “People just picked it up, adopted it, and automatically saw it as better than the prior solution.”

And as part of its ongoing effort to connect its hybrid teams and enable dynamic collaboration from anywhere, Capital One also implemented Zoom Rooms . 

With Zoom Rooms, the teams at Capital One are empowered to participate and collaborate during meetings, whether they are in the office or at home, in the U.S. or abroad. And as an added bonus, Capital One found that Zoom Rooms were significantly easier to deploy than their legacy solution. 

“Zoom Rooms were the next logical step for us because it took the simplicity and intuitiveness of the desktop and allowed us to bring that into the conference room,” Love said. 

“Being able to walk into a Zoom Room and just click the button that says, ‘Join the meeting’, being able to see your participants and manage volume and sound, and then conducting your meeting, being able to wirelessly share content — it was almost a no-brainer for us to make that transition to Zoom Rooms,” Love added.

“The experience of being remote is that you are able to fully participate in the conversation and be able to innovate quickly — it’s almost as if you’re there in the room,” Love said. “Zoom closes the [geographic] distance and removes boundaries. Users can see each other, share content, and collaborate with colleagues across the U.S., Canada, U.K., India, and the Philippines.” 

“Within a day, we can have a Zoom Room installed,” Love added. “And we identified that the cost of deploying Zoom Rooms was about a third of the traditional conference rooms we had been deploying in the past.” 

The recruitment team at Capital One also used Zoom to transform its operations and expand the reach of its program.

“By shifting to virtual [recruiting] and using tools like Zoom, we’ve been able to triple our engagement with historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions,” Keegan said. “We’ve been able to double the amount of attendees without increasing the total number of events so that’s a lot more individuals and a lot more relationships that we are able to build.”

The talent and recruitment team even found ways to enhance communication with candidates and new hires.

“The various filters and settings within Zoom help us to capture the mood, help us capture the moment,” Steals said. “We utilize the whiteboard not only for interviewing but also for our training and development sessions.”

Enabling future innovation

As Capital One moves into the future, Zoom will continue to play a vital role in helping the organization bring on new talent and empower that talent to innovate for Capital One customers. 

“We expect that as time goes on, this also will further enhance our employees’ ability to innovate and to be able to effectively communicate and really be productive and really drive solutions that will power this company,” Love said.

“We’re highly collaborative, we’re people-centered, we’re interested in moving ourselves and our goals to the next level,” Steals added. “Zoom is, I believe, the ideal tool to suit the culture that we are and that we strive to be at Capital One.”

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Victoria Turk

Zoom took over the world. This is what will happen next

Image may contain Sherry Turkle Advertisement Collage Poster Human Person Head Face Glasses and Accessories

It’s a relatable start to Zoom’s earnings call webinar on June 2, reporting on the company’s results for the quarter ending April 30, 2020. Tom McCallum, head of investor relations, reads a brief introduction before handing over to Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan.

“And with that, let me turn it over to Eric,” he says, raising his eyes to the webcam.

The camera view switches to Yuan, wearing a navy polo shirt against the call’s bright blue digital background. This is his big moment: he’s about to report tremendous growth in revenue and customers, smashing estimates for the quarter.

Yuan’s lips move a little, but there’s no sound. His eyes glance around the screen as if he’s looking for something.

He’s on mute.

Yuan recovers from the 15 seconds of awkwardness and steams ahead with his prepared remarks, thanking frontline workers and reflecting on the role Zoom found itself plunged into as the Covid-19 pandemic abruptly made physical meetings inadvisable and stoked new demand for digital alternatives. “Navigating this process has been a humbling learning experience, giving us a newfound appreciation of what it means to be a video communications technology provider in times of need,” he says.

Zoom is the pandemic’s success story. As lockdowns around the world closed offices and made working from home compulsory for vast sections of the working population, businesses and individuals grasped for a way to carry on at a distance. If it felt like everyone was suddenly using Zoom, that’s because they were: in April, Zoom peaked at over 300 million daily meeting participants – up from ten million in December 2019. Its measurement of “annualised meeting minutes” jumped 20-fold, from 100 billion at the end of January to over two trillion in April. For the quarter ending April 30 2020, Zoom reported total revenue of $328.2 million, a 169 per cent increase from the same period last year.

Covid-19 forced the world of work to adapt. But is this a glimpse of the future of the workplace, or will our love affair with video technology dissolve as soon as the virus recedes, the office re-opens and Zoom fatigue sets in? Given a real choice, will we continue to do business via webcam – or will we leave our microphones permanently on mute?

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Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan demonstrates a 'Zoom Room'

As the novel coronavirus spread across the world, life didn’t change too much for employees of GitLab. While other knowledge workers packed up their laptops and wondered if they’d be back before their office plants died, the software company’s 1,300 staff stayed largely where they were.

GitLab, which makes a collaborative tool for software development, has operated as an all-remote company since it was founded in 2011, and now has team members across 65 countries. When Covid-19 hit, some employees had to leave coworking spaces and others had to grapple with children invading their home offices, but work continued mostly as usual. Meetings: all conducted over Zoom. Office socials, team lunches and pizza parties: also over Zoom.

“Zoom is a critical part of how we communicate,” says Darren Murph, GitLab’s head of remote, speaking (over Zoom) from his home in North Carolina. The company originally used Google Hangouts for video calls but switched to Zoom in 2016 as the platform could better accommodate large numbers of virtual meeting participants. Earlier this year, GitLab held an all-hands kickoff meeting with more than 600 attendees. “Most other tools would fold under that kind of load, and Zoom can handle massive scale without a problem,” Murph says.

GitLab’s company handbook includes extensive guidelines on how to use Zoom for meetings, catch-ups and social check-ins, some of which contradict the general consensus on video-call etiquette. One states that it’s completely fine to look away or not pay attention in a video meeting, and to respond “Sorry, what were you saying?” when someone mentions your name. “Otherwise, I'm essentially wasting 20 minutes of my day per call just looking into this webcam, even though I could be doing much better things,” Murph says. “You have to set the culture of, like, it's okay to manage your own attention.”

Under lockdown, the company added a new entry to the handbook: Zoom “juicebox chats”, a variation of its usual virtual coffee meetings for employees’ children to talk and compare toys during breaks from home-schooling.

Thanks to coronavirus, Murph believes that soon GitLab’s work-from-anywhere approach will not be unusual. “If your output is digital, I think now is the best time ever to consider leaving the office and switching to all-remote,” he says. In May, Google and Facebook said most of their employees would work from home until 2021, and Twitter said those who wanted to could now work from home forever.

Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor at Harvard Business School who studies remote working and who has produced a case study on GitLab, says there are strategic as well as HR advantages to an all-remote team. It reduces the cost of office space and travel, can avoid complications with visas for foreign employees, and can appeal to a broader range of talent, such as parents seeking flexible arrangements or military spouses who move frequently. In his research, Choudhury – who says he is “probably the leading academic cheerleader” for remote working – has found that a company’s productivity can increase when people work away from the office.

Where an all-remote team may previously have seemed radical, the coronavirus pandemic forced many companies to give it a go, becoming unwitting participants in a global remote-working experiment (WIRED was among the guinea pigs, switching to Zoom for daily stand-ups, editorial meetings and Friday team drinks – the last with progressively dwindling enthusiasm as the weeks in lockdown mounted up).

Murph, who personally started working remotely “before 3G was invented”, says the main barrier is not technology but management. And Covid-19 has shown many managers that allowing their staff to work from home may not be as detrimental to productivity as they perhaps feared. Moving forward, if a job candidate asks about flexible working arrangements, “I think all companies now will have to have that answer, because of Covid,” Murph says. “There's no way you can just say, ‘Oh, we haven't thought about it.’”

Image may contain Glasses Accessories Accessory Face Human Person Outdoors Photo Photography Portrait and Smile

With users around the world, Zoom began to notice an impact from coronavirus quite early, first in Asia and then across Europe. “You could say in January we started to sense there was something dramatic,” says Abe Smith, Zoom’s head of international. He speaks to me over Zoom from the Bay Area, briefly switching his digital background of the Golden Gate Bridge to one of the WIRED logo and then the British royal family by means of introduction.

At the end of February, Zoom suspended its 40-minute time limit for some free users in China, the country then most affected by the outbreak, and started posting tips and guidance for those new to working from home. “By February, we knew that there was something very, very dramatic in the making, so to speak,” Smith says. “By March it was full-on.”

Though many have only become familiar with the name in recent months, Zoom is not a new company; it was founded in 2011 and completed an initial public offering in 2019. Its origin story harks back to the 1990s, when Eric Yuan, then studying at Shandong University of Science and Technology in China, got fed up with taking a ten-hour train journey to visit his now-wife and wanted an easier way to see her face. He moved to the US in 1997 and worked at videoconferencing startup Webex, which was later taken over by Cisco, for 14 years before leaving to start his own company.

Cisco Webex remains a competitor in the enterprise videoconferencing space, and Zoom is also up against the likes of Microsoft Teams, Google Meet (née Hangouts), Skype, GoToMeeting and BlueJeans. Yet, as the coronavirus spread, it was Zoom that made the transition from brand to verb. In April, Microsoft reported that Teams had reached 200 million daily meeting participants and Google said Meet had more than 100 million, compared with Zoom’s 300 million.

Part of Zoom’s coronavirus success is likely due to the fact that individuals can join and host meetings, with some limitations, for free – although it also saw a steep rise in paying business users, boasting a 354 per cent year-over-year increase in customers with more than ten employees in its quarterly earnings report.

Feng Li, chair of information management at Cass Business School, City, University of London, says the trend for digital collaboration tools had already been growing but was greatly accelerated by Covid-19. One advantage Zoom had over competitors, he says, was its ease of use. “It's very simple, but very good at what it does.”

Karin Moser, a professor of organisational management at London South Bank University, says Zoom was “just a bit sexier” than alternatives and had some better features, such as screen-sharing, digital backgrounds and the option to see more participants on screen at once. Marketing and media attention may also have contributed to its popularity, she adds.

For the Zoom team, the sudden influx of new users posed a challenge. “I think business school students and computer science graduates will have studied this in years to come,” says Zoom CIO adviser Magnus Falk. “It’ll be one of those case studies.”

The company’s first priority was keeping up with demand. The platform is cloud-based, and Falk says that Zoom’s 17 data centres were being managed to run under capacity anyway, with different regions in different time zones so that one could fail over to another. “So there's quite a lot of inbuilt capacity in the network already,” he says. When this wasn’t enough, Zoom turned to public cloud services operated by Amazon and Oracle. “We were adding thousands of servers, virtually, in some of these cloud centres.”

Meanwhile, the number of customer enquiries and support tickets rocketed as people wanted to get set up immediately. “We had to be responsive, we had to be thoughtful, we had to be intelligent and compassionate, because it was a very stressful time for people,” Smith says. At the same time, Zoom employees were also having to deal with lockdown; the company’s headquarters is in San Jose, in California’s Bay Area, which brought in stay-at-home orders in March.

As Zoom gained popularity, it also came under increased scrutiny, with concerns raised about the platform’s security and privacy. One issue earned the moniker “Zoombombing”, to describe people crashing Zoom meetings by finding or guessing a meeting ID. “We prefer to call it uninvited guests,” Falk says.

One of the problems, he says, was the nature and number of new users during the pandemic. Zoom’s usual customer base was businesses, who would adopt security practices such as using passwords or putting attendees in a digital “waiting room” so they could only enter the meeting if approved by an admin. Suddenly, all sorts of people were using Zoom for all sorts of things.

Falk compares the phenomenon to when teenagers used to make public Facebook events for house parties, causing hundreds of people to turn up and trash the place. One Friday night, he says, someone at Zoom noticed that a celebrity with millions of followers (he wouldn’t say who) had posted about a relative’s charity-raising Zoom session – revealing not only the meeting ID but also the password. “We were all panicking a little bit – what could go wrong?” Falk says. He ended up joining the meeting, which had thankfully enabled the waiting room feature, and spoke to the host about security controls.

Zoombombing can be more than a prank; there have been examples of people infiltrating virtual synagogue events to hurl anti-Semitic abuse and of people screen-sharing pornographic videos or even child abuse material.

Other security issues centred around Zoom’s encryption. In its marketing, Zoom had claimed it used “end-to-end encryption”, but later admitted it was using this term incorrectly – something Falk says was “kind of an own goal”. Researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab also found that encryption keys were occasionally being sent via China even when users were in the US – something that Zoom said was a mistake owing to servers failing over to Chinese data centres, and wouldn’t happen again. Citizen Lab highlighted the fact that Zoom has many engineers in China, employed through subsidiaries, which it suggested could “open up Zoom to pressure from Chinese authorities”.

Following a stream of negative media attention, on April 1 Yuan announced that the company would freeze work on new features and spend 90 days focusing solely on privacy and security. “It was that, you know, ‘Houston we have a problem’ moment,” Falk says. Omri Herscovici, a security researcher at Check Point Software Technologies who has previously found Zoom vulnerabilities says Zoom’s response showed it was taking the issues seriously. “That's actually a pretty encouraging statement from a vendor that size,” he says.

Within a month, the company hired prominent security researchers including former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos, upgraded its encryption, and made passwords and waiting rooms the default. It went on to acquire encrypted messaging company Keybase, and in mid-June announced that it would offer end-to-end encryption as an option for all users; people using the free “basic” version would need to verify their phone number in an effort to stop abuse.

Yuan also took to the Zoom blog to defend the company against what he described as “disheartening rumors and misinformation” about Zoom’s links with China outside of the specific data routing incident. He said that Zoom was open about its subsidiaries in China, and that this arrangement was similar to that of other multinational tech companies. He has been a US citizen since 2007.

But controversy over Zoom’s security is unlikely to disappear. In June, the company faced new criticism for censoring activists holding Zoom events to commemorate those killed during the Tiananmen Square protests. Zoom ended three such meetings and suspended or terminated the hosts’ accounts, even though the hosts were based in the US and Hong Kong. It seemed like yet another own goal.

Zoom says that it has to comply with local laws in the countries it operates in. In a blog post, the company explained that the Chinese government had identified four planned events that it said were illegal in China, and asked Zoom to stop them. During two of the events, Zoom staff could tell from meeting metadata that some attendees were based in mainland China and so stopped the meeting. Another was ended as Zoom staff saw that a previous meeting hosted by the same account had included participants from mainland China.

Zoom says it took this action because it did not have the ability to remove specific participants from a meeting or block participants from a specific country from attending, but admitted that it had fallen short. It later reinstated the hosts’ accounts. “Going forward Zoom will not allow requests from the Chinese government to impact anyone outside of mainland China,” the company wrote.

Read more: We’re stuck in a lockdown work from home purgatory

At one point during services at St Catharine’s Church in Gloucestershire, Reverend Jo Pestell used to say: “The Lord is here.” To which the congregation would respond: “His spirit is with us.” But with regular churchgoers now no longer “here” themselves, she found that the liturgy needed an update. “So I’m saying, ‘The Lord is with each household,’” she says.

St Catharine’s started holding Zoom church services on March 22, after which worshippers were no longer allowed to meet in person. “I chose to use Zoom because I felt like it would give us the best way of replicating what we did on a Sunday, in terms of people being able to see each other and interact with each other,” Pestell says. She estimates that 95 per cent of people have managed to join the virtual services, with some members dialling in by phone if they don’t have a smart device.

Zoom was designed as an enterprise tool, but when the pandemic hit it suddenly found itself actually enabling what so many tech companies try vainly to reproduce: community. There were Zoom coffee meetings, Zoom happy hours, endless Zoom pub quizzes. Gyms offered Zoom pilates classes and HIIT workouts; chefs put on Zoom cooking classes; choirs Zoomed together with their instruments. You could join a Zoom Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, or attend a Zoom Black Lives Matter protest. People had Zoom weddings – and, in a sad reflection of the times, Zoom funerals.

Many of these extra-curriculars, Zoom Head of UK and Ireland Phil Perry points out, also represent small businesses. “A yoga class isn’t just a social thing, there’s people that run their businesses that way.”

For many, Zoom became a social lifeline. The women’s committee at East London Mosque turned to video calls during lockdown as they were worried that women in their community could feel particularly isolated, especially with Ramadan approaching. They decided to try hosting a monthly Zoom event in Bengali and English. In the first meeting, they went over their 100-participant limit and had to upgrade their plan. “What was really interesting was this wasn't necessarily women that would ordinarily attend the mosque,” Ruhana Ali, a trustee of the mosque, says. Some weren’t even from London, joining from across the UK.

There were some teething issues; one particular concern was that men might try to join the women-only session or could be caught in the background of someone’s video. They decided this would be impossible to completely prevent, and so warned women joining that if they wore a headscarf they might want to keep it on for the call.

Both Ali and Pestell are considering holding Zoom events even after the coronavirus lockdown lifts. Pestell says that it has made services accessible to some people who wouldn’t be able to make it to church every week, such as people with disabilities and missionaries working overseas.

But while video offers some advantages, she says it is no real substitute for meeting in person. “There isn’t a comparison,” she says. “When I break bread on a Sunday and people are coming up for Communion, there’s that really personal moment of connection. That’s not there in the same way.”

This is a common sentiment among people I speak to: for all its potential efficiencies, a Zoom call just isn’t the same as an in-person meeting. Denise Freeman, a Manchester-based therapist, started using the service in April. While she found it a positive experience, it lacked an element of personal contact. Usually, she would take cues from a client’s body language during a therapy session, but only being able to see their head and shoulders meant she had to encourage clients to verbalise their feelings more. “I miss being able to look at the whole person, so I’m having to sort of delve a little bit deeper,” she says.

It’s this lack of body language and other contextual cues that cyberpsychologist Linda Kaye, a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University, says may be responsible for “Zoom fatigue” – the feeling of tiredness that many people report after spending time on webcam. “You're trying to pay more attention to those social cues that actually, that can become very effortful,” she says.

And then there’s the issue of eye contact. Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT and author of several influential books on our evolving relationships with technology, explains that in order to give other people the illusion of connection on a Zoom call, you have to deprive yourself of the same. “Very soon, you learn that to make other people think you're making eye contact, you have to stare not at anybody but the little green light on your computer, the aperture of the camera, so you feel completely alone.”

When MIT was no longer able to teach its regular classes due to coronavirus, Turkle, with her expertise in human-computer interaction, vowed to become the best Zoom teacher. But while she praises Zoom’s ease of use, something was missing. “No matter how good it gets, you have more polish, but you don't have presence.”

In her personal life, Turkle has also found videoconferencing to fall short. Watching a poetry reading that would usually have her enrapt until the lights went down, she felt she’d had enough after 20 minutes. When she held a Zoom Seder at the start of Passover, still early in the pandemic for the US, some people left early and others struggled to concentrate. “I knew I was supposed to feel happy that we were all together,” she says. “But it was more like we were supposed to feel that. It wasn't that we really were.”

Image may contain Sherry Turkle Face Human Person Clothing Apparel Necklace Jewelry Accessories and Accessory

At the beginning of June, British MPs lined up around Westminster to vote on whether to end virtual parliament, brought in to limit the spread of Covid-19. The socially-distanced queue was about one kilometre long, with MPs waiting more than 30 minutes to enter the chamber and cast their ayes and noes. While the motion was passed, to outsiders the spectacle looked farcical.

Post-pandemic, the same could be true of old workplace habits. “When you try to revert back to the old way of doing things, some of them will become very silly,” Feng Li says.

Most people won’t expect their workplaces to follow GitLab in going all-remote, at least not for now. “It's definitely going to be a hybrid model,” Li says. Moser predicts that more people will work some days in the office and some at home. “I think we were going that way anyway, but we would have gone at a much slower pace,” she says.

The advantages are obvious: no commute, savings on office space, environmental benefits and increased efficiencies due to people not having to travel between one meeting and the next.

Making the transition, however, isn’t as simple as just transposing the office on to video. Virtual management needs to be carefully handled; a culture of digital presenteeism can soon creep in, with people feeling they need to be visible online all the time, and technical limitations can stymie discussion or favour certain voices. Kaye points out that it can take more effort to make sure you get your turn in a Zoom meeting, meaning those with more confidence may dominate.

Moser is concerned that digital communication can lead to greater bias, owing to deindividuation effects: essentially, if we only see a person in the context of a virtual meeting, we may see them less as a full individual and more as a 2D representation of their role, gender, age or ethnic background. “You still get a different sense of the person if you are actually sharing physical space,” she says.

Extra effort is required to try to replicate “watercooler” moments, and creativity and culture are harder to digitise than just efficiency.

A greater reliance on video meetings could also have implications on the way organisations work as a whole. One advantage of video, Li says, is that it can be recorded to share or refer back to. “What that means is you can have a permanent record of a lot of this kind of organisational knowledge,” he says.

This point may seem obvious, but I get a glimpse of how it could change the way a company works when I speak to Mike Adams, co-founder and CEO of Grain, a startup built completely around Zoom (Adams is a big Zoom believer, having previously founded MissionU, a Zoom-based college alternative that sold to WeWork in 2018).

The purpose of Grain, which is currently in private beta, is to make it easier to take notes and share clips from Zoom meetings. Adams demonstrates how he can annotate a video call with notes and automated timestamps. He then shows how he can find and share video clips from an earlier meeting using a text search. The result is a meeting that is not just recorded, but easily searchable and shareable.

When I mention to Adams that it feels a bit ominous that all my offhand comments in meetings could be stored and resurfaced forever, he emphasises the need for an updated consent model for video recording.

“What you're creating is a searchable shared brain,” Adams says. “You're creating a contextualised history of the conversations that are happening in the act of doing work.”

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Following its first-quarter results, the main question for Zoom is how many of its new users gained during the pandemic will stick around for the long run. In its financial guidance for the full 2021 fiscal year, it says it takes into account demand for remote work solutions but also assumes a higher rate of churn in the second half of the year than usual, owing to a higher number of people taking out monthly subscriptions in the first quarter. It puts expected revenue at between $1.775 billion and $1.8 billion.

In terms of the company’s future direction, Abe Smith highlights Zoom Phone, its answer to traditional enterprise phone systems, and Zoom Rooms, which fits out physical conference rooms for video meetings, as areas of focus. He envisages more potential business use cases for Zoom, such as sales teams incorporating video calls into their CRM or help-desk staff walking through problems over video instead of a phone call.

Dave Grant, Zoom’s manager of customer success EMEA, says the company has seen a rise in demand for online events, “so I think that's going to be an ever-growing part of what we offer.”

Grant sees future innovation also coming from Zoom’s app marketplace, which allows other tools to integrate with the platform. You can connect Zoom with Slack, for instance, in order to immediately start a video meeting from within the messaging app. “Every time we offer a new way to integrate an application that's as important to our customers as we are, then we're delivering more value,” he says.

Li says that Zoom’s ability to integrate with other platforms is an advantage. While Zoom is focused specifically on video, he says, we may soon see a company develop a whole new digital working environment, encapsulating all elements of the virtual workspace – an operating system for remote work. “That kind of competition is going to be extremely brutal, because if anyone succeeds at becoming the entry point for people, especially now people spend more and more time working online… Whoever succeeds in that is going to be extremely successful,” he says.

In Zoom’s Q1 earnings call, Yuan said that Zoom’s priority at the moment is keeping the service running smoothly, and that the company would then start to look at where to double down on growth areas. “For now, one thing we know for sure is the TAM [Total Available Market] is bigger than we thought before,” he said.

He ruled out supporting advertising or selling customer data, and said that Zoom was “laser-focused” on video and voice. “I truly believe video is the new voice,” he said. “Video is going to change everything about communication – the way for us to work, live and play is completely changing. From that perspective, there’s a huge opportunity.”

Vicki Turk is WIRED's features editor. She tweets from @VickiTurk

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Case Study: Zoom Takes Video Conferencing on the Road with Logitech MeetUp

Zoom Takes Video Conferencing on the Road with Logitech MeetUp

People around video conference table

Zoom is a leader in modern enterprise video communications with an easy and reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing across mobile devices, desktops, phones, and room systems. Zoom provides a software platform that works with all Logitech video conferencing solutions.

Anthony Lee, an account executive at Zoom, has a Zoom Room in his RV that enables him to meet face-to-face with anyone anywhere in the world, from any device. Anthony’s video-enabled RV provides everyday work/life balance, allowing him to both work and enjoy his family in the same environment.

Supported by Logitech technology and the Zoom platform, Anthony believes he gets three times as much work done remotely than if he was inside a corporate office.

zoom company case study


INDUSTRY Video Communications


SOLUTIONS Logitech MeetUp


Zoom supports work/life balance among its employees and enables them to work remotely, including from an RV. The ability to participate in video conferences from virtually any location can result in both higher work productivity and more precious time with family. Matching the Zoom software platform with the right video conferencing hardware is key to optimizing the total experience.

Logitech Connect product image


The Zoom software platform is plug-and-play compatible with every Logitech video conferencing solution, including MeetUp, Logitech’s premier all-in-one ConferenceCam designed for smaller meeting spaces.

MeetUp delivers remarkable video quality in small rooms, whether a huddle room or an RV. Its super-wide 120° field of view and pan, tilt, and zoom controls makes every seat at the table clearly visible while MeetUp’s integrated premium audio ensures meetings sound as great as they look.

Logitech C3000e product image


The combination of Zoom and MeetUp is ideal for creative remote applications, like a Zoom Room aboard an RV bound for the open road. Simply plug it in and it works.

Drawing of people in a circle


“I recommend what I use personally and what I've actually tested. Logitech hasn't failed me once.”

Anthony Lee  Account Executive

Recommended Products

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All-in-One ConferenceCam with 120° field of view and integrated audio, perfect for small conference and huddle rooms

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Video conferencing for mid to large-sized meeting rooms

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Zoom saves 133 work weeks per year with Asana

Automation efficiencies.

Save 133 work weeks per year through efficiencies in automation, process standardization, and reduced context switching

Team visibility

Connect technical and business teams’ work in one platform

90% program adoption

Achieved over 90% adoption of IT’s Bring Your Own Device program


At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone from businesses to prime ministers signed up for a Zoom account. The leading communications provider connects millions of companies, friends, and families with video, voice, chat, and content sharing tools. And for businesses in particular, video conferencing plays a starring role when they can’t meet with customers in person and teams can’t physically work side by side.

Zoom grew from just over 2400 employees in January 2020 to more than 5700 global employees as of June 2021 and the Business Services & IT department keeps them all connected. Gregory Daniels, Senior Manager for Technology Program Management, leads a team that focuses on IT project and program management. They oversee systems changes and deployments such as Zoom’s Okta rollout and the companywide Bring Your Own Device program. These global initiatives, with budgets in the millions of dollars, affect just about everyone at the company.

Greg has also worked to develop Zoom’s project management culture, but when he joined, teams were struggling to collaborate in a mix of spreadsheets, emails, and work management platforms. The mishmash just wasn’t working:

Engineering and development teams used Jira, but marketing and sales teams didn’t, making visibility into upcoming feature releases difficult.

Some teams fielded work requests from all directions, which made it difficult to scope and prioritize inbound projects.

Status updates for executives were presented in a slide deck that teams manually updated in a tedious process.

Zoom’s workforce needed a more effective way to communicate as the company scaled up.

quotation mark

As Zoom grew, we wanted a standard view of everything going on so we could prioritize work and make business decisions. We needed visibility, accountability, consistency in how work gets done, and knowledge sharing across teams.”

A solution to bridge technical teams and business teams

Greg and his IT colleagues began to evaluate work management platforms. A top priority was to unite Zoom’s technical and business teams to eliminate those last-minute launch scrambles. They needed a platform that had a Jira integration, and that was flexible enough to accommodate different workflows from different departments.

It was clear that Asana is the market leader in work management, and we wanted to have that business relationship.”


Rollout: teaching people to manage projects the Zoom way

IT rolled out Asana to five departments initially, and as managers brought projects into the platform, their teammates followed. More and more groups came on board as they saw the value of centralizing work, with one easy-to-share link to an Asana project that contains everything. IT also achieved leadership buy-in by moving monthly business reviews into Asana.

Greg says, “Once we made Asana official, the pent-up demand for a work management tool spilled over and we saw many more people using it over time.” Zoom’s time savings from working in Asana grew 200% year over year as adoption increased.

Greg’s team used the Asana rollout to teach people general organizational skills and the “Zoom way” of getting things done. “Asana is our classroom to help people learn a new way to manage projects,” he says. “We use it to teach fundamental project management skills and how to work in a repeatable, scalable way to achieve results.”

Today, Zoom has a few Asana experts in each department who train new employees on their group’s workflows, while Greg’s team is available for additional training and complex project design. They often show off the Security team’s Asana setup as an example of how to structure  Portfolios , and standardize projects.

How technical and non-technical teams work together in Asana

Departments across Zoom use Asana as a source of truth.

The engineering-business connection  Engineering teams manage day-to-day tasks in Jira, synced to Asana, so they don’t need to update marketing on every little release. “It has completely unscrambled the scramble for us,” says Greg.

Marketing  The globally distributed marketing team uses Asana to plan campaigns and events, as well as to manage inbound requests from other teams at Zoom.

Business Services & IT  IT uses Asana for global rollouts and systems changes, such as the Bring Your Own Device program, which achieved 90%-plus enrollment. “Asana made change management easy,” Greg says. “We could track every tiny subtask needed to help Zoom employees understand the program. There was too much going on for a spreadsheet to be effective.”

Security  The Security team uses Asana to keep their projects up-to-date in real time, so everyone can see their status. This is vital for the team’s large technical implementations and enterprise-wide rollouts, which can involve up to 20 collaborators and many more stakeholders. The team uses Portfolios to organize continuous large-scale initiatives and  nested Portfolios  for projects within them.

When you're moving this fast as an organization, it’s important to be on the same page and have a centralized tool to hold people accountable.”

Teams rely on a standard set of Asana features but use them flexibly to match their processes.

Projects  are the source of truth, and  Project Overviews  provide context about goals, scope, time, and cost, so that nobody needs to ask the project manager.

Portfolios  group projects by their program, clarify team workloads and bandwidth, and let managers monitor status in one view.

Integrations  such as  Jira Cloud  connect technical and business teams. The  Zoom  integration lets meeting attendees take notes in an Asana task within a Zoom meeting. The  Zapier  integration helps automate steps in workflows, while the  Google Drive  integration connects files to the projects they belong to.

Forms  help teams collect inbound requests from internal sources in one channel. For example, the content creation team in Sales Ops Enablement collects all information upfront in their standard  Asana Form . Greg says, “It was process enforcement from day one. They share a form link, receive a secure request, scope, and provide a deadline estimate.”

They can quickly iterate on their process by changing fields in the Asana form. Zoom employees submit nearly 900 forms per month, and the efficiencies created save the company an estimated 335 days of work per year.

Templates  provide a jumping-off point for new projects, saving time and ensuring no steps are forgotten. “If I’m using an Asana template," says Greg, “an hour of project planning becomes just fifteen or twenty minutes. An hour-long kickoff meeting gets cut in half. The time savings are substantial.”


Zoom saves 667 work days per year

Today, Zoom saves an estimated 667 work days per year with Asana features like forms, comments, templates, and more. That’s more than two years of typical 40-hour workweeks.

Some teams have ditched manual executive slide deck updates, instead using Porfolios to give leaders a 30,000-foot view of all initiatives. It’s also easy to spot when groups are working on similar projects, so they can consolidate work and rally their efforts.

The  Anatomy of Work Index  found that this duplication is common, and knowledge workers are spending 13% of their time on work that’s already been completed. The issue becomes more likely when an employee uses many apps to get things done. But for Zoom, a central home for projects shines a light on redundancies.

When all schedules, tasks, and communications are in one place, remote collaboration is easier.

Organization and discipline helps companies scale

As Zoom’s project management capabilities continue to grow, more groups like Greg’s are emerging around the company. They continue to champion and innovate on the Zoom way to get things done, helping everyone execute quickly and at scale.

When employees work together in Asana, Zoom closes the distance between its teams—just as their products help close the distance between colleagues, loved ones, and even prime ministers.

Scaling is about empowering our individuals to use Asana without project managers as the gatekeepers. We like to keep things very flexible, with enough guidelines so people can create their own projects.”

Read more customer stories

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Get connected and scale your work.

Empower your entire organization to do their best work with Asana.

As Zoom moved upmarket, their existing billing system was not supporting their needs for more customization, more reporting, and more pricing and packaging flexibility. According to Sunil Madan, Head of Business Operations for Zoom, "It was going to get out of control" and was completely unscalable.

Company zoom industry b2c, the customer.

Zoom is a leading provider of video and web conferencing services.

The Challenge

To sustain growth as they expand their business to multiple product lines, multiple geographies, and through multiple channels.

The Solution

The Zuora platform supports Zoom’s multiple growth initiatives and provides the operational backbone they need.

The Benefits

In 2016, Zoom announced 215% YoY growth in usage. By 2017 650,000 businesses were on Zoom.

“The biggest advantage Zuora gives Zoom? The speed to deliver.” —Sunil Madan, Head of Business Operations for Zoom

zoom company case study

Zoom's Story

Cloud-based video conferencing company Zoom was founded in 2011 by former engineers from Cisco and WebEx. After Zoom launched their video conferencing software to the public in February 2013, they quickly attracted over 20,000 businesses and 1,400 educational institutions globally.

In the beginning, their growth was organic, with technology companies and higher education as early adopters, happily embracing Zoom technology.

According to Janelle Raney, Product Marketing for Zoom, “Freemium has always been a big engine,” driving conversions to paid accounts. Since Zoom is a collaborative platform, it naturally lends itself to viral growth—every time you invite someone new to a meeting, they get to know Zoom (and to know Zoom, is to love Zoom!).

But word-of-mouth growth can only take a company so far. As Zoom grew up, they needed to be more strategic about their growth. To do this, they needed the right foundation.

As they moved upmarket, their existing billing system was not supporting their customers’ needs. They had no quoting solution and were relying on inefficient MS Word docs and spreadsheets. According to Sunil Madan, Head of Business Operations for Zoom, “It was going to get out of control” and was completely unscalable.

To work with mid-market and enterprise customers, they needed more: more customization, more reporting, different plans, easy discounting. And big logos had unique requirements which Zoom’s former billing system couldn’t support. So they went looking for a platform solution to help them mature as a company.

Enter Zuora.

In 2015, Zoom implemented Zuora in just four months. Since that time, they’ve experienced exponential growth and received numerous industry kudos alongside an additional huge funding round from Sequoia that places Zoom at a $1B valuation.

In short, Zuora is supporting Zoom’s growth by providing:

  • Pricing and packaging flexibility which allows Zoom to design customized product editions engineered to increase deals and ACV per deal.
  • Deep insight into customer usage to help identify upsell opportunities and build strategic upsell paths.
  • Support for online account management and a range of online payment methods for self-service customers—both of which are essential to drive customer satisfaction, conversions, and upgrades.
  • An enterprise multi-entity version of Zuora which is key to their planned international expansion: a strategic priority for Zoom.

As a result of their awesome product and strategic growth, customers, journalists, and analysts alike all laud Zoom’s services. In November 2016, Zoom announced 215% year-over-year growth in usage and was named a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing (according to Raney, the Zuora infrastructure was a “definite factor” in this award).  And in January 2017, they raised $100M in Series D funding and Okta announced Zoom as the fastest growing app on their platform.

Zoom is growing fast, with demands from sales and marketing, billing, operations, and finance that they need to stay ahead of—not to mention the over 650,000 companies who put their trust in Zoom. In response to this high demand, according to Madan, “The biggest advantage Zuora gives Zoom? The speed to deliver.”

Before Zuora, Zoom had no standardized quoting solution, relying instead on inefficient MS Word docs and spreadsheets.

In 2015, zoom implemented zuora in just four months. since that time, they’ve experienced exponential growth, with a 215% yoy growth in usage in 2016., say hello to some of our other b2c customers.


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Attempt Any Four Case Study Case 1: Zip Zap Zoom Car Company

Profile image of Atif Ali

Zip Zap Zoom Company Ltd is into manufacturing cars in the small car (800 cc) segment. It was set up 15 years back and since its establishment it has seen a phenomenal growth in both its market and profitability. Its financial statements are shown in Exhibits 1 and 2 respectively. The company enjoys the confidence of its shareholders who have been rewarded with growing dividends year after year. Last year, the company had announced 20 per cent dividend, which was the highest in the automobile sector. The company has never defaulted on its loan payments and enjoys a favorable face with its lenders, which include financial institutions, commercial banks and debenture holders. The competition in the car industry has increased in the past few years and the company foresees further intensification of competition with the entry of several foreign car manufactures many of them being market leaders in their respective countries. The small car segment especially, will witness entry of foreign majors in the near future, with latest technology being offered to the Indian customer. The Zip Zap Zoom's senior management realizes the need for large scale investment in up gradation of technology and improvement of manufacturing facilities to preempt competition. Whereas on the one hand, the competition in the car industry has been intensifying, on the other hand, there has been a slowdown in the Indian economy, which has not only reduced the demand for cars, but has also led to adoption of price cutting strategies by various car manufactures. The industry indicators predict that the economy is gradually slipping into recession.

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