Zoom has — alongside other virtual meeting software providers such as Hopin — undoubtedly been one of the winners of the pandemic. Its video meeting software has enabled teams all over the world to work effectively from home.
In fact, the platform’s use has been so widespread that ‘Zoom’ is now used as a verb. Words associated with Zoom – like unmute and ‘zoombombing’ – have been highlighted, alongside superspreader, circuit breaker, and social distancing, in the Oxford Languages’ words of 2020.
In its 2021 annual report, Zoom reported $2.65 billion in revenue, representing an increase of 326% on the previous year. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2021, Zoom claimed to have 467,100 customers — an increase of 470% from March 2020.
Despite a record-breaking year, Zoom is not resting on its laurels. In order to diversify and strengthen its offerings, the company has launched a $100m venture capital (VC) fund known as the ‘Zoom Apps Fund.’ This is part of the company’s push to exceed $3bn in revenue over the next year.
Zoom CEO and founder Eric Yuan explained: “What I’ve learned over the past year is that we need to keep meetings productive and fun.
“My hope is that the Zoom Apps Fund will help our customers meet happier and collaborate even more seamlessly, and at the same time help entrepreneurs build new businesses as our platform evolves.”
What is Zoom apps?
Zoom Apps was first launched in October 2020. They aim to provide ‘best of breed’ offerings that can be integrated into Zoom to drive efficiency and productivity before, during, and after the meeting itself, according to a company blog post.
Examples of apps that have been launched in the past six months are Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Reset, an in-meeting app that helps de-stress and prevent virtual fatigue, Unsplash’s zoom backgrounds, and Dot Collector, which collects feedback from meeting attendees.
However, now in its tenth year of operation, Zoom wants to use its new VC fund to keep growing its ecosystem of apps, hardware, and integrations. With the new fund, Zoom will invest between $250,000 and $2.5 million in startups that come up with new ways for Zoom customers to not only meet virtually but also to efficiently collaborate on projects beyond the meeting itself.
Zoom head of corporate development Colin Born wrote in a blog post: “We’ve got a vision to help people accomplish more through video communications, and we’re looking for companies that share that vision.
“Our new Zoom Apps Fund will aspire to invest thoughtfully in teams that are committed to building new and positive experiences for our customers.”
These investments into promising startups are also a way for Zoom to eye up potential acquisitions, according to an FT interview with CFO Kelly Steckelberg.
Steckelberg said Zoom intends to focus mainly on early-stage investments, and therefore will rely on other VC funds to co-invest in the selected startups.
By transforming itself into a platform enabling effective remote working, Zoom is seemingly countering its main competitor in the video conferencing space: Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams benefits from being easily integrated into other Microsoft products, including Office. It has continued to innovate and expand its offering throughout the pandemic and ensure it is not only focused on nine to five white-collar workers but also those working shifts.