EXCLUSIVE: Founder of San Jose-based video conference company Zoom talks growth during COVID-19 outbreak

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Saturday, March 28, 2020
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Amid the Coronavirus epidemic, San Jose-based videoconferencing company Zoom is now a household name.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Amid the novel coronavirus epidemic, San Jose-based videoconferencing company Zoom is now a household name.

The New York Times says ""From Zoom University to the Zoom Party. We Live in Zoom Now. Zoom is where we work, go to school and party these days." Zoom founder and CEO Eric Yuan gave a Bay Area exclusive interview to ABC7 News anchor Kristen Sze on Midday Live to share his thoughts about Zoom's place in the world.

Yuan immigrated to the U.S. from China in the 1990s after applying nine times for a Visa.

He dreamed of being part of the innovation of Silicon Valley.

He founded Zoom nine years ago to give businesses an easier, affordable way to do cloud-based videoconferencing.

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While the platform was growing in popularity with technology companies and businesses, it was little known to the general public, even when it went public in April 2019.

But with COVID-19 ravaging the world and keeping people in their homes, the platform's use has grown exponentially.

Zoom shares have doubled in the past month, the company is now valuated at $40 Billion.

The Zoom iOS app went from 50,000 daily downloads to two million.

Yuan says he never imagined his platform would be used beyond business and education, for virtual happy hours, workouts, game nights and weddings.

"I never thought about that because we were always focused on modern workers," he said.

He says he feels a greater sense of responsibility to get it right.

"It's a huge responsibility. We've got to make sure the service is always up because so many people are coming on Zoom," he said.

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Zoom offers many tiers of service, beginning with the free service that enables up to 100 participants to join for up to 40 minutes.

Companies generally pay for additional time and features.

But during this time as schools move to remote learning, Zoom is giving K-12 Schools all its videoconferencing tools for free.

Yuan says 85,000 school districts and educational groups have taken advantage of this offer.

With success comes challenges.

Yuan says Zoom has to work even harder to protect user data and privacy from hackers and trolls.

Yuan says there is also an education gap the meetings are being set up not by corporate IT professionals but by schools and members of the public.

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"We need to focus on education to make sure they understand there are so many security features like passwords, waiting room features, disable some features for some attendees," Yuan said.

As for the future of Zoom and other technologies like it, Yuan predicts they will continue to transform the way we work and live, and that we're unlikely to go back to the way things were with most people commuting to work daily.

When Sze asked Yuan who would be the one person that he would like to Zoom with, past or present, Yuan said his father.

"Unfortunately, my father passed away the year before I started company," he said. "If I could meet with my father over Zoom and share what we did over the past several years, I'd be very very very happy."

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