While Zoom has entered our everyday vernacular and reshaped how we engage with the world, Eric Yuan, Zoom Founder and CEO, continues to be amazed that tens of millions of people use the platform to work, work out, socialize and even get married. (Zoom marriages are now legal in the state of New York.)
In its first nine years, Zoom became a dominant video conferencing brand, and its revenues grew from USD60 million in 2017 to USD330 million in 2019. But in just the first quarter of 2020, when social distancing and lockdowns were instituted, Zoom’s revenue jumped to USD328 million. Sales could reach USD1.8 billion by year’s end, a five-fold increase since 2019.
“For sure, I am very surprised,” admits Yuan. “Prior to the pandemic, Zoom focused only on business enterprise customers. During the pandemic, usage was skyrocketing, with 30 times more traffic in the first few months and new consumer usage from online yoga classes to school students. We had never thought of these users before.”
He continues, “Personally, I felt excited that after nine years of hard work this was our opportunity. On other hand, I felt a huge pressure and responsibility with so many people counting on our services. We needed to take action proactively, like adding new servers quickly without breaking existing functionality, and ensuring no privacy issues emerge.”
During the YPO European Impact Summit, Yuan shared with business leaders some of his success tactics during the explosive growth of Zoom this year.
- Focus: Over the past eight to nine months, on peak days, Yuan says he had up to 19 meetings. He would focus on three things: eat, sleep and Zoom. “Every morning, to fully recharge, I would fast forward to 2040 or 2050, thinking about the opportunity I have to help the world. In evenings, I make time to meditate, asking myself what I could have done differently. This has also helped me focus.”
- Innovate: Zoom’s latest service allows consumers to host and monetize events. “We were so inspired by all the amazing ways the world has adapted to shutdowns and wanted to help professionals and knowledge service providers by offering an end-to-end service including payment features. We are also embracing new technologies like 5G.”
- Adapt: One of the key challenges Yuan’s team faced was related to the fact that Zoom was built to serve enterprise customers. They had all kinds of privacy and security features, but with the crisis, they had to change their processes. “We started playing the role of information technology technicians, so we learned quickly to overcome this challenge. Now we continue to leverage artificial intelligence to protect end users from unhealthy content, otherwise you lose their trust.”
- Build trust: Speaking of trust, at Zoom, it is everything. “Our favorite book is Speed of Trust. If there’s no trust, there is no speed and customers will not stay when there are challenges. So, we keep everything open and transparent to build trust with customers and internally with employees.”
- Invest in a happy corporate culture: Zoom culture is summarized in two words according to Yuan: deliver happiness. Life’s purpose is sustainable happiness. “I want my employees to wake up feeling happy. If not, they should step back and find the root cause before interacting with customers. Since March, when everyone started working from home, we have been looking at ways to keep mental health high as working from home for such a long time is not easy.”
- Keep a customer perspective: When Yuan started the company and began raising money, a lot of people said he could not compete against the big industry players. But from the start, he says he did not look at competitors. “I looked at customers, customers’ perspectives and pain points, and focused on delivering happiness to customers.”
When asked to provide personal leadership tips, Yuan was quick to answer. “First, work hard, without it nothing can be done. Second, be humble, not arrogant, and third be grateful and acknowledge others whenever you make progress.”
YPO members interested in utilizing Zoom services for their companies have access to a unique partner offer.