If you hadn't already heard have of Zoom Video Communications, there is a decent chance you’ve made its acquaintance over the past few weeks.
The crisis has cast a spotlight on Zoom, a company founded nine years ago by its CEO Eric Yuan after he defected from Cisco Systems and took about 40 engineers with him. He wanted to refine a concept he first dreamed up during the 1990s as a college student in China, when he dreaded the 10-hour train trips to see his then-girlfriend, now his wife.
Yuan, 50, recently spoke to The Associated Press during an interview conducted on Zoom. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: Are these strange times providing a glimpse at how we are going to be working and living in the future?
A: I hope this crisis can be over very, very soon, but one one thing I know for sure is that companies will learn this is the way to work. I am pretty sure almost every company will be thinking about it and say, “Hey, maybe working from home makes sense," and maybe let every employee work from home, maybe once a week. Previously, a lot of businesses didn't even want to try.
Q: Do you think we will find out that people can be more productive at home?
A: It’s too early to tell whether it’s more productive or less productive, at least for me. I am finding I have even more meetings, and every day I miss the launch time, so I am also learning how to adapt to all this working from home.
Q: Zoom primarily has been used by businesses. Are you discovering new social applications now that people are using it to virtually hang out too?
A: That is not our intention. But kids are pretty smart, they always figure out new use cases. There are some very cool consumer use cases. For now, I am just telling my team and reminding myself this is a very critical time because we are in a crisis. So we are focusing on two things: To serve our existing customers and make sure our service is always great quality and is always up. The second thing is how can we help the local community, like the K-12 schools, handle this crisis. Anything else, I told our team, that's just a distraction.
Q: Zoom's stock has been soaring while most of the market has been plunging. How are you managing that?
A: It's good that I am 50 now. If you had asked me this question when I was 25, I would tell you, “Yes, we are very excited about the stock price!” But, now, seriously, I can tell you the truth, it don’t matter. So the stock is up, it’s good for our investors. If it’s down, we keep working hard. I really do not focus on the stock price.
Q: Do you still see personal, physical interaction as an important element in society?
A: I think for the foreseeable future, that’s absolutely right. We still haven't been able to have cool features like a virtual hug that you can actually feel. We talk about that, but we don’t have that. Or when you drink tea or coffee, with one click you can digitize a smell. Those features will be available with AR (augmented reality) technology, but for now it’s too early. That’s why you have to have the personal interactions.