The Wainhouse Research Blog
News & Views
on Unified Communications & Collaboration
David Berman recently joined Zoom as president, taking on responsibility for Zoom’s go-to-market efforts and administrative operations, reporting to Zoom’s founder and CEO Eric Yuan. I had a quick sit-down with Dave through the electromagnetic wonders of the Internet.
WR: What in your background at WebEx (where David was President of Worldwide Sales and Services) and/or RingCentral is most likely to apply in your role at Zoom?
DB: I’ve been in the web conferencing industry for 16 years, since its infancy. This is a large market, but no one has gotten it right in terms of the technology and, most importantly, the user experience. We had a long run at WebEx; it was a good start. I see Zoom as the next generation, the chance to finish what we started there. As President of RingCentral, I was one of the first Zoom customers and partners. I got to see the product grow first hand, and see how unique features like interoperability and support for mobile platforms are solving real needs for businesses.
WR: What do you believe is the key to Zoom's success up to now?
DB: Zoom is successful because people are clamoring for an all-in-one solution that provides video, audio, collaboration, and IM/presence that is actually easy to use for your average employee. Proof in point: we had one large customer, David Fearing from Asurion, tell us recently that his company went from 800 minutes a month on their old solution to 127,000 minutes a month on Zoom. That only happens with a truly comprehensive and user-friendly platform. We now have over 140,000 businesses running Zoom, including half of the Fortune 50 and over 80% of the top universities in the U.S. We are closing in on four billion annual meeting minutes.
WR: Your job description says you are responsible for go-to-market. What exactly is Zoom’s go-to-market strategy? How does it compare to what you did at WebEx or RingCentral?
DB: Our go-to-market strategy has both direct and indirect components. On the direct side, Zoom has a freemium strategy, which is a full-featured free version of our product. This strategy has exposed tens of millions of people to the Zoom platform and created viral growth that our direct sales team leverages with a high velocity land and expand model, similar to the approach at WebEx. On the indirect side we have traditional resellers, integration partners like Slack, Box, Dropbox, etc. and strategic partners that embed the Zoom platform in their core offering such as RingCentral.
WR: How do you think Zoom will be different three years from now?
DB: We are focused on growth. We have tripled our sales force this year and have some huge wins in the enterprise. We are concentrating on growing our global presence. We also have some strategic partnerships and plans for our API offering (such as embedded video) that will further open up Zoom to new markets.
WR: Who do you believe is your major competition in the consumer space, or don't you think the consumer space is relevant for Zoom?
DB: We’re mostly focused on users with a professional need, so we’re not preoccupied with the consumer solutions out there. That said, we feel that the education market is a great way to get Zoom in the hands of more consumers, as many of the end users in education are students who will use Zoom for both professional and personal needs. (WR note: we recently profiled Zoom's offerings for education and training, in fact.) A lot of consumers and SMB workers have found that Zoom’s Basic/Free and Pro offerings fit their needs. We’re very happy to have them on board even if we don’t direct a lot of our sales and marketing efforts their way.
WR: Who do you believe is your major competition in the SMB or large enterprise space?
DB: We can point to any of the large incumbents as competition. The fact is, even if their customers are by-and-large unhappy, it still takes time and effort for those customers to make the move. These incumbents are not innovating, and their products have low usage. Their behemoth conference room systems are not built for today’s mobile and distributed workforces. These companies are half dead; they just don’t know it yet. Zoom is built for the way people work today and we’re built to be easy.
WR: So are you writing off the conference room altogether?
DB: No, quite the opposite. We believe that conference rooms will have a big place in the future of collaboration. Millennials, the largest population in our workforce, are all about collaborative work spaces. What I’m actually saying is that expensive, complex, hardware-based systems should be left behind. The future will consist of conference rooms that are affordable, flexible, and easy for any end user to walk into and immediately start collaborating with others in the same space or half way around the globe. We see Zoom Rooms, our software-based conference room system, as the way of the future.
WR: What do you believe is the major challenge you face in the next six months.
DB: There is always uncertainty in the market. Global conflicts, market shifts – these changes influence every business. Our top priorities are staying focused on the customer experience and keeping up with inbound demand.
WR: Fuze is being acquired by ThinkingPhones, a company with which you must be very familiar. It's another step in the direction of convergence. Do you think a similar future for Zoom makes sense?
DB: This buy seemed to make sense for both Fuze and ThinkingPhones; it was a good opportunity on both ends as far as I could see. We’re happy to see Fuze get scooped up – less noise in our industry. At Zoom, on the other hand we are building a thriving and enduring business with a truly stand-out product suite. That is our path and we’re not going to stray from it.
WR: What benefits to do you think Zoom has over competitors?
DB: It’s about the customer experience, and that’s to say, it’s really about creating the best product. It’s the easiest to use, it has the most robust mobile platform in terms of scheduling, meeting, and collaborating, and most importantly, it just works, every time. It’s the best value on the market and the best experience in terms of how end users really consume technology. And more and more people are starting to see that every day.