Zoom has become synonymous with our new way of living and working in the hybrid world created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Zoom today helps hundreds of millions of us stay connected to one another for work, school and socializing. Because of this meteoric rise, Zoom is the next platform upon which both consumer and enterprise startups will build billion dollar businesses. At Maven Ventures, we focus on consumer software investing, which is why most of our Zoom App investments over the past year are solving big problems for consumers — mostly at home, but sometimes at work as well. Though it’s not our focus, it’s clear there are abundant opportunities for enterprise startups to build on top of Zoom as well. Recently, I described on CNBC how the new Zoom platform will work.
Consumer technology over the past century is divided into eras of disruptive platforms. From radio, to cable TV, to broadband internet, to the rise of mobile internet, generation-defining companies have been built on these new platforms. But in the years since the proliferation of mobile internet devices, we had not yet experienced another platform to achieve a similar critical mass…until Zoom. Simply put, it’s time for a new platform, which is a rare and exciting time. And I believe it’s just getting started.
Zoom reminds me of previous births of past tech platforms like broadband, mobile, and cloud. I saw these platforms emerge from inside the tech industry, as an internet exec, then an early employee at consumer social companies Friendster and Bebo, then as an Angel investor in many mobile-first companies in the early 2000s, including Zoom. When I started advising Zoom pre-launch, they were building mobile-first and on the cloud. The new mobile and cloud platforms gave rise to Zoom, and now Zoom will enable the launch of many more tech successes. I love how the tech ecosystem keeps enabling new startups to innovate on prior successful platforms. Here are the five reasons Zoom is now positioned to be the next big platform to launch new, multi-billion dollar companies.
1. Zoom Saw Unprecedented Mass Adoption in 2020
Video communication’s rapid, widespread adoption in our personal, social, educational, and professional lives cements Zoom as the next big consumer tech platform. Sudden mass adoption of a product creates a distribution channel (a platform) for new products to reach millions of people overnight, and that’s exactly what’s happening with Zoom. In just a few months at the start of the pandemic, Zoom jumped from 10 million daily meeting participants to over 300 million, and with its global penetration came the opportunity for Zoom to shift from product to platform.
This mass adoption has made it possible for Zoom to realize it’s opportunity as a new platform. By comparison, when Apple launched the App Store with 500 apps in 2008, only about 10M people had an iPhone in their hands. Yet it was still a big enough start to launch the mobile app industry that has propelled so many successful tech companies. By reaching a critical mass of daily users who rely on Zoom not just for videoconferencing at work and school, but also personal uses like exercising, entertainment, celebrating life milestones, and socializing, consumer comfort with video technology is now in a position to support new applications and new multi-billion dollar businesses.
2. CEO Eric Yuan is Building the Team and Infrastructure for Zoom to be a Platform
A product only becomes a platform under visionary leadership. CEO and Founder, Eric Yuan fits the bill. Eric has been a visionary since I met him in the early days of Zoom. Eric recognized the global shift towards mobile and cloud computing, and built a mobile-native and cloud-based HD-quality video product that would eventually take over the market. Eric exemplifies the type of founders we want to back at Maven Ventures: those who can see a better future when it might still seem crazy to everyone else and will do everything in their power to bring to the world their vision worth fighting for. He also instilled a healthy culture of trust and happiness amongst employees and customers from day one that’s still very much alive in Zoom today. The culture sets Zoom apart from most other public technology companies — just take a look at the Zoom employee experience shared widely on employer review platforms and in the media. Now that Zoom is the backbone for video communication, Eric is leading the Zoom team in its evolution from a product to a platform. They’ve bolstered Zoom’s video infrastructure, adding three key pieces to its foundation: the Zoom App Marketplace, Zoom Apps, and a customizable SDK, all announced at the most recent Zoomtopia conference and highlighted as Eric’s and Zoom’s key priority in the most recent Zoom public quarterly report. These three critical components will enable Zoom to be the launchpad for the next generation of billion-dollar consumer and enterprise startups.
3. Zoom App Marketplace
The Zoom App Marketplace is an open platform where apps built by third-party developers can leverage Zoom’s platform to enhance a user’s full Zoom experience. Put simply, the Marketplace is the distribution channel bringing both third-party and Zoom-built apps and integrations to the hundreds of millions of people that already use Zoom daily.
The Zoom App Marketplace is fully secure, with a comprehensive review process ensuring every application is vetted for security, privacy, and UX. Further, the Zoom team has made app discovery remarkably simple, breaking down the hundreds of apps into a dozen clear categories so users can easily find the app best suited to their needs. Since its launch in 2018, the Zoom Marketplace has claimed more than 400 integrations from both startups and publicly-listed tech companies alike, and boasts over 800 million monthly API calls. The Marketplace is rapidly growing with applications spanning from chat to calendar to telehealth, and we see no signs of slowdown as these integrations enhance the Zoom experience for millions of users.
4. Zoom Apps
If the Zoom App Marketplace is the place to discover hundreds and eventually thousands or millions of app integrations for the core Zoom meeting experience, Zoom Apps are a group of selective applications that deeply integrate with Zoom and might be used as stand-alone applications with Zoom as a component.
Donations by Pledge allows users to add a Donate button to any Zoom meeting
Zoom Apps allow users to bring their professional, personal, or social applications into the Zoom experience without having to switch between multiple applications on their desktop. Zoom Apps are used within the meeting window and the desktop client (before and after a meeting), and can be presented, used alone, or used collaboratively. As users can seamlessly bring an app into a meeting for all to see and interact with, the introduction of Zoom Apps creates new functionalities within Zoom, and widely expands the range of use cases and distribution methods.
Developers are responding with overwhelming positivity to Zoom Apps’ model for two reasons. Most importantly, the open platform offers strong distribution channels. It offers free distribution to potentially tens of millions of new customers through the Zoom App Store via discoverability, sharing, word of mouth virality, and IT deployment within organizations.
Starting with applications built by 35 launch partners, including Asana, Coursera, and Slack, and Maven portfolio startups, Docket, Fathom, Pledge, HeYo, and Warmly, Zoom Apps seek to transform the way consumers use Zoom by bringing them access to their essential applications exactly where, when, and how they need them.
To access Zoom Apps: 1. Update to the latest client here. 2. Start using Zoom Apps! You may need to ask your IT admin to enable it for you.
5. Customizable SDK
Zoom’s second SDK, next generation & fully customizable, unpacks the meeting SDK so developers can build entirely new third-party applications, incorporating video or audio as a service. With its customizable SDK, developers have the freedom to embed and enrich their own original, external apps with Zoom’s video or audio experience and scalable infrastructure, as well as the ability to create a custom UI, layout, and composition without app users ever knowing the video capabilities are powered by Zoom. By putting more creative power into the hands of developers, Zoom opens its platform up to a world of new use cases and applications and enables more video-based applications to be created than ever before.
Heyyo is a feature-rich chat with reactions, threading, pinned messages, group chats, file upload support, and more
Considering our high conviction in Zoom as the newest platform for billion dollar companies to be created, many of the incredibly talented founders from our recent Maven investments are using the Zoom platform to achieve their visions worth fighting for:
Class is replicating the real feel of school classrooms on Zoom, allowing educators to take attendance, hand out assignments, give quizzes, grade work, or talk one-on-one.
Daybreak Health is a digital mental health center built for teens. Daybreak provides individual counseling, group sessions, and wellbeing tools to teens, their parents and high schools.
Docket is a meeting-focused workspace for collaborative agenda creation, decision documentation, and action item tracking.
Fathom is a meeting-based intelligence tool empowering users with transcriptions, and insights on video calls.
Frame Therapy helps consumers find their therapist, schedule online therapy sessions, pay securely, and browse on-demand mental health content.For therapists, Frame is an intuitive practice management solution offering telehealth, marketing support, communication, scheduling, and billing tools.
Heyyo is a feature-rich chat with reactions, threading, pinned messages, group chats, file upload support, and more — all of which last between meetings and are accessible through their mobile app. Heyyo is built by the Glimpse team, who are also working on an AI-powered breakout room assistant.
Luma is a one-stop shop for creators to organize and host their events on Zoom, and manage their audience via events, newsletters, and community analytics.
Pledge is the leading fundraising platform for today’s mission-driven companies, nonprofits and individuals. As Zoom’s official charitable giving partner, Pledge brings frictionless fundraising functionality to any virtual event on Zoom.
Warmly empowers users to conduct better, more productive meetings by providing instant context and insights for everyone you meet on Zoom.
Stealth: Our team has also made one additional recent investment in a live-streaming startup building on Zoom’s platform that has not yet been announced.
With all of the companies we’ve invested in over the past 14 months, our investment process has been completed entirely virtually. Our introductions, pitch meetings, and check-ins with current and potential portfolio startups have been enabled by (you guessed it) Zoom, making us all the more excited about our newest investments.
As our Maven team continues to identify evolving consumer behaviors, in our remote world and beyond, Zoom’s infrastructure has clearly set itself apart as the newest platform for billion dollar startups. If you’re a founder building a consumer startup on Zoom’s platform — we’d love to connect! Shoot us an email at email@example.com!