I suspect that after all the press Zoom is getting for their successful IPO, if you’ve never been invited to “Zoom,” you’re probably wondering: where did Zoom come from? Amid the IPO hype of other consumer behemoths like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and Pinterest, Zoom Video Communications is the single profitable company of the newly minted unicorn IPOs, and boasts the happiest customers and employees. It’s gratifying to finally see Zoom get its fair share of recognition, and I bet there’s still so much more success ahead.
When I first met Zoom founder & CEO, Eric Yuan, in 2011 soon after he left Cisco to start Zoom, I found him and his vision so compelling that I became one of the earliest advisors and investors. I’m so grateful to my cousin Dan Scheinman, a Zoom board member, successful tech executive and investor, who introduced me to Eric whom he knew from their Cisco days. Dan told me that Eric was a very special entrepreneur with an idea to bring a better video communication platform to the world. Much has been written about Eric’s background as an immigrant from China, his work at Webex, and the founding of Zoom. I’m also so grateful that Eric agreed to let me help him and his team in those early days and to have been a part of this very special journey.
At the time, Zoom was just an idea in a seemingly very competitive video conferencing space and most investors incorrectly thought that the existing products like Skype, Webex and others were solving this problem. But, what most people didn’t see at that time was that Eric had a vision to build a new type of video communications experience that would solve a massive need.
Zoom is exactly the type of company we get excited about at Maven Ventures: Eric is an exceptional leader with a strong technical background who wanted to build an iconic company with a special culture, and who put together a great early team including the head of product marketing at the time, Nick Chong, who I had the privilege of working with in those early days. And, Eric wanted to bring to the world a meaningful “Vision Worth Fighting For,” a new product to connect people face to face across the globe built for the new mobile cloud ecosystem. I got a peek into the early signs of success as I worked with Eric and Nick and advised on product, marketing and viral strategies.
A consumer marketer at heart, my proudest contribution back then was convincing Eric to change the original name they had at that time, to one that I knew was just perfect for his vision: Zoom. More on that later.
Until recently, very few knew just how powerful a company Eric and his team were building, and what an amazing and indispensable product they had brought into our lives. Quietly, they’ve won the business of everyone from small businesses to the Fortune 50 and top universities. Now that Zoom has filed it’s S-1, people around the world better understand what Zoom has done. One detailed S-1 breakdown states: “From looking at Zoom’s meteoric rise compared to other companies, they’re in a class of their own. Every metric they disclose is best-in-class — revenue growth, sales efficiency, profitability, net dollar expansion, massive growth in $100K+ revenue / enterprise deals.”
The Zoom IPO is incredibly impressive and truly exciting, and the outcome is a massive success for a Seed fund like Maven Ventures. But it’s just one of the many reasons we’re thrilled to be associated with Eric and this amazing company. Zoom has made my life better, like so many of its millions of users. Without Zoom, I truly don’t know how we could operate Maven Ventures so successfully with such a small team. It has enabled the Maven team, and millions of others globally, to communicate with trust and integrity from anywhere in the world. IT JUST WORKS!
This is largely because of Zoom’s intense, authentic focus on the customer. They built a culture that cares deeply about customer happiness with an NPS north of 70. Zoom will continue to bolster the shift toward telecommuting, allowing the next generation of workers to be more productive and happier employees. Why drive around for half a day, or commute in three hours of traffic, when you can Zoom from your home, a coworking space, or a coffee shop? More companies are understanding that Zoom can be a competitive advantage for them to hire and retain employees. And millions of consumers are using Zoom every day for free at home, like me–I rely on Zoom to stay in touch with my son in college.
Just as important as the amazing product that Eric has built, he’s also created one of the most successful work cultures in Silicon Valley and the world, with a foundation of trust and customer happiness. Over 1,700 very happy and motivated Zoom employees (soon to be growing to many more thousands, I suspect) are thrilled to be at one of the most desirable places to work. It’s no accident that Zoom was awarded Glassdoor’s 2019 Employees’ Choice Awards as the best place to work, coming in at #2 of 100 large US companies. Eric and his talented team work hard every day to continue to instill the values of trusting one another and the culture of customer and employee happiness that he set from the early days of Zoom.
So, coming back to the earlier question–how did I come up with the name Zoom? One of my kids’ favorite children’s books that I read to them over and over was Zoom City. I loved this fun little book as much as my kids, and hoped to use the name someday for the perfect company that embodied the same values of creativity, exploration, happiness, and trust. And the name works perfectly with a product that connects us visually to one another and that always works so fast and seamlessly. With Eric’s startup, I found just that. I’d been saving the name Zoom for a long time, and I’m so grateful that Eric trusted me to help him name his company.
As it says in the book…”Zoom City, away we go!”
“Jim has been great to work with from the launch of Zoom; he gets along with everyone and is there to help on anything we need. His contacts in the business and venture community have been invaluable. And, not only did he come up with the name Zoom, but he also helped us create our marketing strategy and language, go to market launch and PR strategy, and has introduced us to key consultants and employees. Jim’s been an integral part of our success to date that has culminated in an amazing introduction to and first review of Zoom by Walt Mossberg by the WSJ. We truly couldn’t have done this without Jim’s help.” — Eric Yuan, Founder & CEO, Zoom