Thank you, Eric Yuan.
Yuan is the Chinese-born founder and CEO of Zoom Video Communications Inc. Zoom, founded in 2011 and headquartered in San Jose, is the remote videoconferencing service that has become the unofficial people’s choice.
Business is, in fact, zooming, with media reports that Zoom has about 200 million daily users, up from 10 million before COVID-19 changed the world.
Local small businesses, churches and individuals now use the Zoom app to conduct meetings and classes online and connect for free with family and friends.
In Sunnyvale, Wilna Derr plays games like Pictionary with her kids and grandkids on Zoom. She has set up four online Bible study groups.
“We can get together and see each other and continue our study and pray for one another,” said Derr. “It gives a sense of normalcy in a time when nothing seems normal.”
Derr said that even people who are not computer savvy can use Zoom.
“It’s interesting to see the reactions of people when they get up on Zoom for the first time — like ‘Oh, look! I’ve got to go out and put on make-up!'”
California impressionist painter Jeffrey Bramschreiber, president of the board of Santa Clara’s Triton Museum of Art, is excited to be launching classes on Zoom.
“When shelter-in-place started, all my workshops and classes were cancelled. I was dead in the water,” said Bramschreiber. “Then I heard about Zoom through a teacher and my granddaughter.
“It’s going to be exciting — maybe awkward at first. Nobody is used to doing this.”
Bramschreiber considers his $15 monthly Zoom subscription reasonable.
“It could open a whole new window for private online classes even after this is over,” he said.
The California Conservatory of Music in Santa Clara and Redwood City holds all its classes online via Zoom for its community of 600 grateful families, preserving the jobs of its 33 teachers.
Yet, Zoom is not without critics. It was accused of data sharing. And security has been an issue, with hackers zoombombing (crashing) meetings. Some companies have banned the app on work computers.
Yuan came up with the idea of video-conferencing as a university student in China in the 1990s. He had to travel 10 hours by train to visit his now wife.
“I detested those rides. I used to imagine other ways I could visit my girlfriend without travelling,” he said. “Those daydreams eventually became the basis for Zoom.”
Yuan was inspired to come to Silicon Valley after watching a video of Bill Gates speaking about the transformational power of the internet.
Zoom went public in April 2019, selling at $36 a share. It peaked this March at $164.94.
One of its competitors is Cisco’s Webex in Santa Clara, where Yuan used to work.
“Thank goodness for Zoom and all of our students and staff for showing up on the mat every day,” writes Just Breathe Yoga @ Rivermark, Santa Clara, on its Facebook page.
“We hope that our online classes [bring] some peace, a break in the day and movement into your daily lives.”