By Reya Mehrotra
Zoom meetings became the most important work-from-home tool last year. In fact, from the daily 10 million participants in Zoom meetings in December 2019, the company witnessed a massive surge to 300 million daily in April 2020. With the lockdowns back again and remote working becoming the norm again, Reya Mehrotra spoke with Sameer Raje, GM and India head, Zoom Video Communications, Inc, in an exclusive interview to know the growth trajectory of the video communication services platform and future expansion plans. Edited excerpts:
The beginning of the decade has been marked with a boom in tech and digital communications. Are the coming years set to experience hyper growth in this sector?
The positive side of the pandemic has been the technology push and thereby, innovation. Many start-up businesses emerged in 2020 with innovative solutions addressing the challenges of the new normal. Sectors such as healthcare, education, FSI, etc, that have transformed during the pandemic will continue to benefit through platforms like ours. We are looking at a hybrid world. Twitter was the first company to allow its employees to work from home permanently. TCS has announced that 75% of their workforce will work from home by 2025. Facebook said that almost half of its workforce may work from home in the next five-10 years. This shows that virtual communication and collaboration will continue to be a big part of our lives.
As a young company, you have grown multiple folds especially during the pandemic. Had you imagined this kind of success?
No one had anticipated the world to go digital overnight. We saw a massive growth in our user base that consists of governments, businesses, schools, hospitals, standalone users, etc. From 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019, we saw 300 million daily meeting participants as recorded in April 2020. While the growth had its set of challenges, it was a learning curve for us. Our security is generations ahead with AES 256-bit GCM encryption. For data-sensitive sectors, we had also announced end-to-end encryption in beta version as a global availability to free and paid users.
What gives you an edge over your competitors? Last year, Gmail and other prominent names too announced video conference features. Did that in any way hamper your business?
Our strongest advantage is that Zoom is simple and easy to use. Users also are absolutely sure about frictionless, immersive video and audio experience even at low bandwidths. There are a host of other features which our users love us for. Beyond this, the central IT teams love our features of dashboarding and reporting to ensure that they keep their end users happy. Instead of looking at what the competition does, we listen to our customers and incorporate the feedback as much possible. We have faced intense competition since 2011 when we launched, but our customer-first approach and continued focus on privacy and security have made Zoom the trusted platform of choice for millions.
What are your future expansion plans? Any new rollouts, features, etc, to be announced?
Our growing presence has been a result of the expanding user base on our platform. Since 2020, we have added two new data centres and with our current 19 co-located data centres globally, we are serving our customer base effectively. We also launched new technology centres in Bangalore and Singapore. Our expansion plans represent Zoom’s strategy of developing its leading communications technology in multiple locations globally. Learning from the past and keeping in mind the challenges of the new ‘hybrid’ normal, we wanted to keep the transition as smooth as possible. Therefore, we had recently extended our Zoom Rooms feature as a global availability. This innovation enables organisations to safely re-enter office and sustain an ‘everywhere workforce’, providing them a touchless experience, from setting up a meeting room to a virtual receptionist. Some key features include contactless entry experience for employees and building guests, options to pair iOS and Android mobile devices with Zoom Room meetings and access room controls, Neat Sense that lets users monitor meeting rooms for things such as air quality, humidity, CO2, and volatile organic compounds to keep occupants safe and Zoom for Home that offers integration with smart home display devices such as Amazon Echo Show, Google Nest.
What has been the percentage growth since 2020? Was it the year when the numbers inflated? How was the growth like before that?
Since 2019, when Zoom went public, we have seen tremendous growth. However, during the pandemic, we experienced a sudden increase in our user base across sectors and industries, and have seen multifold increase in adoption of the platform. We recently announced Q4 results and reported $882.5 million, up 369% y-o-y and full year revenue $2,651.4 million, up 226% y-o-y; nearly 4,67,100 customers with more than 10 employees, up approximately 470% from the same quarter last FY; 1,600-plus customers are contributing more than $100,000 in trailing 12 months’ revenue, up approximately 156% from the same quarter last FY.
Which country has best utilised the service?
For us, all markets are a priority.
Will dependence on Zoom continue in the post-pandemic world?
The virtual world and its possibilities have now become embedded in our ecosystem, and they will continue to be a major part of business and IT strategies and daily business operations. We will see continued usage across sectors and industries. In the education sector, remote learning is booming. When students move on to higher education, the experience of distance learning will be a major benefit as they can take courses globally. In healthcare, telehealth has been a major focus and initiative to respond to Covid-19. From retail and wealth management to investment banking, financial services have changed dramatically forever.
Are you planning anything specifically around education sector as edtech has boomed like never before?
Zoom is already being used heavily in the education space. During the pandemic and even today, we are supporting nearly 1,25,000 schools—including 2,500 in India—across 25 countries with a secure and free platform.