Sreekant Khandekar
Guest Article

Zoom's valuation surges to $42 billion in the wake of Covid-19...

What is Zoom? Hint: Not referring to cars. Why has this this video conferencing app become a worldwide rage among smartphone users in recent weeks?

Till a month ago I'd not heard of Zoom. Suddenly, the video conferencing app is on everybody's phones. It's being used for business conferences and to teach school children remotely. Why has Zoom become one of the most downloaded apps of 2020? It's quite a story...

It was set up by Eric Yuan, a Chinese engineer who migrated to the US in 1997 after his visa was turned down 8 times! Yuan joined WebEx, an online meeting platform, acquired by Cisco in 2007. He was head of engineering but when he quit in 2011 customers were unhappy because improvements had come to a standstill. When he started Zoom, few gave him a chance.

Similar services from Google, Skype and GoToMeeting (WebEx too) existed. Undeterred, Yuan felt that many of the old services were buggy and customer-unfriendly. He devoted himself to creating a great product. The combination of free and paid service led Zoom to record triple digit growth for many years. When Zoom listed on NASDAQ in April last year, Yuan's 20 per cent share was worth $3 billion. Since COVID-19 hit the scene, Zoom's valuation has surged to $42 billion. And Yuan is one among a few billionaires whose worth has shot up in the carnage of 2020.

Closing fact: Yuan hates the term 'unicorn' because "if customers don't like your product, very soon you become nothing"