The good people at Zoom are living out a video conferencing dream, the kind of dream where pop stars appear before thousands of adoring fans to proclaim their love for video conferencing.
Little more than five years removed from its commercial launch, the video conferencing startup Zoom has signed more than half a million business clients and has a billion-dollar valuation and a year-on-year revenue growth of 150%.
Zoom’s success is a clear sign of a booming video conferencing industry.
That’s enough to justify throwing yourself a weekend-long party. So, they’ve done that too. Zoomtopia 2018–the second installment of Zoom’s love-fest–was recently staged in San Jose, California, and came with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a major self-congratulatory tech event.
It was headlined by an appearance from recording star Macklemore–who is rumored to have told the crowd “I love conference calls”–featured an address by Serena Williams, a presentation of the championship trophies won by NBA partner the Golden State Warriors, and a host of announcements and releases from Zoom itself, which are just as impressive to us as the first three standouts.
Zoom’s success is a clear sign of a booming video conferencing industry. Moreover, the depth and breadth of the new features and partnerships announced at Zoomtopia 2018 demonstrate just how much video is going to affect our working lives from here on out.
Zoom’s Big Rise
The numbers that define Zoom’s continued rise are worth a quick look. As of the end of 2017, the platform had a track record of:
- Hosting 20 billion meeting minutes in 2017
- 700,000 business clients, including half of the Fortune 50
- A presence in 90% of the top 200 universities in the U.S.
- Customer base growth of 100% year-over-year
- A $100 million funding round from Sequoia Financial Group
That all adds up to the billion-dollar valuation we mentioned earlier. Intriguingly, Zoom’s success marks the second time Zoom CEO Eric Yuan has struck gold with a video conferencing startup, following his earlier work with WebEx.
Zoom’s rise is also good news for the rest of the video conferencing industry. It’s proof that the visual dimension of digital communication has gained a strong foothold in the business world, and that its potential is being realized.
The new Zoom partnerships revealed at Zoomtopia 2018 also show how video is becoming intertwined with the broader digital aspects of modern business.
Partnering to Improve Workplace Collaboration
Video conferencing is no longer a stand-alone technology. As we’ve seen with the surging popularity of centralized workplace collaboration hubs such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, video is now a full-fledged member of the modern office workflow. That means video callers need to be able to launch a meeting from within their normal workflow and be able to access and share their documents and project materials once that meeting begins.
Soon, employees are going to regard opening a video call in a separate app as a cumbersome waste of time.
To keep pace with that demand, Zoom announced a new partnership with Dropbox, a leading content sharing platform. Just as we outlined above, the partnership lets Dropbox users launch a call while working in the program, and lets Zoom users access shared files while they chat. We’ve seen similar video integrations with important business software before, such as Salesforce, Blackboard, and Outlook, but it’s rare to have each app available from the other.
Considering that the likes of Microsoft and Google can offer all-of-office fundamentals such as Docs and Office 365 within their video apps, it is crucial for smaller players such as Zoom to be able to sit within a viable workflow. Soon, employees are going to regard opening a video call in a separate app as a cumbersome waste of time.
Zoomtopia 2018 also featured several other key announcements of features designed to integrate Zoom even more seamlessly into office workflows.
Zoomtopia 2018 Announcements: Voice and More
One of the biggest of those announcements was Zoom Voice. It’s a cloud-based telephony system that lets you combine all your messaging, video, and voice calls through the same solution. It supports inbound and outbound calls through the traditional PSTN (public switched telephone network) so you get both digital and analog connectivity within Zoom. Again, it’s a symptom of the broader video conferencing vendor movement of making your video calling platform the central hub of all your communications–and another confirmation that the desktop landline is dead.
Zoomtopia threw out some other nice updates, including:
- Increased Zoom group video call capacity of 200
- Integrated hardware partnerships with Dell, Logitech, Creston, AVer, and DisplayTen
- An expanded Zoom Marketplace for developers
- Simultaneous content sharing for multiple video callers
- Introduction of virtual backgrounds that don’t require green screens
- Increased security through audio recognition
Beneath all the hype and announcements, there are two key messages we can take away from Zoomtopia 2018.
First is the fact that the video conferencing market has grown at such a rate that it’s now possible for startups such as Zoom to stage an event like this in the first place. That a relatively young company has the financial and user clout to bring in Serena Williams and Macklemore shows just how much money there is to be made in what is still an expanding field.
Video conferencing is going to become as integral a part of the business world as email and the telephone–some might argue it already has.
Second, Zoom owes its success to its vision of video conferencing as more than just a visual version of the phone call. While the company has won friends by keeping its subscription costs low and its installation and user interface easy to navigate, the real advantage is that it can provide the same features and reliability as a big tech rival, with greater nimbleness.
Video conferencing is going to become as integral a part of the business world as email and the telephone–some might argue it already has. To act as the cornerstone of a business, video calling has to fit as comfortably within our working day as those aging devices. Zoom has laid out the blueprint for how that can be achieved, and its continued expansion is one of the most promising stories in the world of digital communications.
Image Source: Shutterstock