A Zoom close up by the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID)

The Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) recently held an online conference and invited CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan to talk about the success of his video platform service.

Zoom’s story began in 2010, but it was really when Eric was an engineer at Cisco’s Webex division that his interest started.

He shared that friends and family cautioned about a market that was crowded with video conferencing services, but over 12 years at Webex, first as an engineer then its VP, gave him invaluable insight into customer gripes with video conferencing solutions at that time.

“Customers were not happy with existing solutions at that time. I started Zoom to bring new solutions that bring happiness to customers,” he said.

Board strategies

Eric had realised from very early, the importance of establishing a board of directors (BOD).  “I report to our BOD and they help us grow our business. They play a big role to ensure that Zoom is on the right track.”

Besides this, Eric had wanted to build a long-term sustainable company, and this is where the BOD has a role to play.

“Establish the board of directors as early as possible, and an independent one for oversight, credibility and more,” Eric shared.

The journey from engineer to being the CEO of a private company now, has been a long one. Priorities had shifted to having to think about revenue growth, bottomline & cost control, and simplification of processes.

Going public

Then when the company went public in April of last year, priorities shifted again. “After we became a public company, the number thing I have to think about is risk factors.  I have learnt a lot in the past one year,” Eric shared.

For example, last December saw the company enabling 10 million meeting participants. Since the pandemic however, there are over 300 million meeting participants, and counting. This growth may have been because the enterprise-focused Zoom began offering its service to consumers as well, during the coronavirus outbreak.

This scale of growth in subscribers is unprecedented like many other things which happened due to pandemic.

“I think the challenges came from almost everywhere, from your service availability, capacity planning, to internal process, and privacy and security to embracing the first-time consumers.

“On the one hand it was a huge opportunity, on the other hand you feel like almost everything is broken.”

What can we do to fix it? That was the burning question.

Company culture

Eric believed that due to Zoom’s investment into their company culture, employees had soldiered on valiantly to overcome all these challenges.

“I did not see a single comment from our employees, we all know that it is time to do work, because we wanted people to stay connected, we wanted to offer free service to K-12 schools as our CSR.

“We worked so hard to fix any issues in a timely manner. And overall I think we survived even though there is still a lot of processes we want to improve. We wanted to leverage this crisis and become a better company.”

This CEO opined that video conferencing is here to stay and organisations will likely adopt a hybrid working office, in the future  –  employees will have a choice to work in the office or at home, so businesses must give employees the right tools otherwise productivity will be lost.