Not an obvious success story.
Zoom was not an obvious success story. When we first met Eric, his 30-person startup still ran demos for customers with a jerry-rigged camera on top of flattened cardboard and a mini-fridge. Files, servers, and empty boxes were scattered everywhere. The elevator didn't work.
Video conferencing had already been won (or so Eric had been told). Cisco had purchased Webex four years earlier for $3.2B, and Microsoft had just acquired Skype for $8.5B. Dozens of competitors had already launched. Suffice to say, nobody believed there was room for just another videoconferencing tool.
But... none of the products of the time lived up to the vision we all imagined. Between unreliable video, terrible audio, and synching issues, teams around the world struggled every day to connect consistently and clearly.
Eric knew there was a better way. As Webex's founding VP of Engineering, he helped scale their team from 10 to more than 800 worldwide, and more than $700M in revenue. He spent 14 years building Webex, through the Cisco acquisition, but always knew there was a better way to connect the world.
The idea for Zoom was simple. Eric believed that the world needed a video conferencing product that was so easy to use, we would finally find joy in meetings, thus the “Meet Happy” campaign was born.
Eric’s customer-centric obsession.
Eric and his team have been obsessed with customers from day one. Since the earliest days of Zoom, Eric has sent personalized emails to each new customer asking for feedback – customers would sometimes respond incredulously, assuming the customer service team was just using Eric’s name. Imagine their surprise when they realized it was actually Eric!
The entire Zoom team’s obsession with their customers rings true today. Instead of building Zoom on top of open protocols that other videoconferencing giants relied on, they built their entire audio and visual stack from scratch the right way to ensure every customer has delightfully smooth calls on Zoom without fail.
“If our customers are happy, the sky’s the limit. We must stay humble and paranoid about our customers’ and employees’ happiness.”
Eric S. Yuan
The best product gives you an unfair advantage.
I remember attempting to introduce Eric to other investors in 2015. “That’s a commodity market.” “Skype and Webex already won.” “Videoconferencing just doesn’t work.” “My venture-investing algorithm gave them a terrible score.”
You don’t have to be the first to succeed. You just have to be the best. Zoom’s explosive success is a testament to the notion that the best products eventually win in a market oversaturated with frustrating, terrible products.
The founders who build the best products must be diligent and obsessed with making customers happy. Our first meeting with Eric was a sales pitch – he had the entire Emergence team download Zoom and start a twelve-way video call in the room. It blew us away.
Building the best company always wins.
So while Eric and the team at Zoom were busy building the best product, one of the things that most impressed me about Eric was that he also built the best company. Zoom was ranked in December as the #1 Best Place to Work in the U.S. by Glassdoor. When you have that rare combination of killer product and amazing culture, you build an iconic company.
We’ve been proud to work with Eric and the entire Zoom team as trusted confidants, board members, recruiters, and most importantly, proud users. In just February of this year alone, Zoom supported over 5 billion meeting minutes.
All that aside, my fondest memories with the Zoom team over the past six years has nothing to do with their current revenue targets, or the product. It’s something Eric shared with me recently: that we’ve become friends and that Emergence is his family.
Congratulations to the Zoom team for an incredible journey delivering happiness and changing the way we work!
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