Zoom rising in crisis

Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, said in an interview this month that in this “probably one-hundred-year crisis”, Zoom is not focusing on competition, but focusing on users and their experience.

Zoom was founded in 2011 by former Cisco executive Yuan, and was originally designed to be easy to use and install. Unlike other video chat products, this app also has a very popular grid view, which allows people to see everyone while talking, thus creating a more social atmosphere. The company is headquartered in San Jose, California, and went public last year.

When the outbreak of a new coronavirus drove the development of video chat, Zoom clearly became a leader, thanks in large part to its ease of use and simplicity. For more than a month, it has been the most downloaded app in the Apple App Store. The company’s market value is about 47 billion US dollars, surpassing Slack and Pinterest.

But the success of Zoom is also a setback, and the public is constantly questioning Zoom’s lack of security and privacy protection measures. “Zoombombing” ( Zoom meetings that intentionally use pornography or other forms of digital harassment to interfere with others ) has become so common that the term becomes part of mainstream discourse.

Large technology companies and telecommunications companies are racing to catch up, although they have launched video conferencing services earlier. Cisco acquired Webex in 2007 for US $ 3.2 billion. Facebook has been promoting its own video chat service. In 2011, Microsoft acquired Skype, an internet phone service, for $ 8.5 billion.

Google announced this month that it will directly connect Meet to Gmail, so that users can make video calls on the web when they open the mail in the browser. Google also borrowed from Zoom to bring a grid-style view to Meet, and added some features to improve video quality in low-light conditions. On Wednesday, Google added noise cancellation options for video calls and extended premium features to all customers for free.

Google said that the usage of Meet has increased more than 25 times compared with January , and more than 2 million new users are registered every day.

After the public questioned Zoom’s privacy and security, competitors also assured customers that their products would be safer . Cisco Vice President Javed Khan said that Webex usage not only skyrocketed, the company added 240,000 users within 24 hours, and its security business is also growing.

He said, “As the world’s largest corporate security company, we are helping customers connect and collaborate securely.” When Verizon announced the acquisition of BlueJeans on April 16, BlueJeans also emphasized security. The company said in a blog post : “As the current era of working at home shows, it is essential to have safe, reliable, high-quality collaboration tools like BlueJeans.”

Epic Games acquired Houseparty, a video chat app last year, which is very popular among young people. In recent weeks, more than 50 million people have registered it, and the scope of users has also expanded to those who use Zoom at the same time. Houseparty said that in order to highlight its own characteristics, it emphasizes some features, such as the ability to play games with other players in the app .

Facebook, which is extremely sensitive to Zoom

Few companies are as sensitive to the rise of Zoom as Facebook. Zuckerberg recently urged several Facebook teams to speed up the release of video chat products, including the Facebook Messenger desktop application released this month, which puts video chat functionality first. Zuckerberg said that there are now more than 700 million people making calls between Messenger and WhatsApp every day. He made it clear that other functions need to be built as soon as possible.

These include Messenger Rooms, a way to quickly create video chat rooms using Facebook Messenger, which can support dozens of people at the same time. Facebook has also integrated video chat functionality into its Dating products, and plans to integrate the function of creating rooms into WhatsApp, Instagram Direct and other services.

Zuckerberg said that compared to Messenger Rooms, Zoom makes people feel more planned and less casual. He said he wanted to make the video chat experience more accidental. He said: “I really don’t think there is anything that can be displayed temporarily so that anyone can add you through video chat. Sometimes people will compare our products with those of other companies, just like you I did it with Zoom before. I think that the main way people experience Messenger Rooms will be very different. “

According to three people familiar with Facebook ’s plan, the company ’s augmented and virtual reality unit has launched a video communication device called Portal, which has also been working with Zoom since January so that people can use it Make a Zoom video call. These people familiar with the matter said that the two companies originally planned to release this product in May, but because Zoom recently decided to freeze the development of all new features for 90 days to strengthen its security measures, this plan was shelved.

Two of the insiders said that Facebook’s augmented and virtual reality department is also discussing expanding video chat partnerships with other companies. However, Facebook and Zoom spokespersons declined to comment.

However, for the Silicon Valley giant, Zoom may be too entrenched to be expelled. At the end of last month, Google ’s chief business officer Philipp Schindler used Google Meet to hold a video conference with the company ’s thousands of employees. Three employees who had participated in the video conference revealed. During the meeting, an employee asked, although Google provided the Meet video chat service very early, why did Zoom become the biggest winner?

The insider said that Schindler tried to appease the engineer’s concerns. At that time, his child was staggering to the camera and asked if his father was using Zoom to talk to colleagues. Schindler tried to correct him, but the child continued to say how much he and his friends like Zoom.