Zoom CEO Eric Yuan turned considered one of world’s richest after Covid crush


Almost one 12 months after the World Well being Group found the coronavirus, many individuals are nonetheless staying residence from workplaces, colleges, film theaters, stadiums, church buildings and eating places. A variety of the socialization that may be taking place in these locations in 2020 is occurring over video calls. And you may’t discuss that facet of life with out speaking about Zoom.

Zoom appeared to return from nowhere. It wasn’t backed by Cisco, Fb, Google or Microsoft, though these corporations all sought to meet up with Zoom. A small firm that was geared towards adoption in massive corporations out of the blue discovered itself slammed with folks attempting the service totally free, in addition to 1000’s of latest paying clients. Income quadrupled and revenue elevated 90-fold, catching analysts without warning. The inventory went greater and better, simply standing out as one of many high shares of the 12 months — alongside the likes of vaccine maker Moderna and Chinese language Tesla challenger Nio — with a acquire of greater than 450%.

That is been useful for the founder and CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, who beforehand labored on the Webex video calling software program that Cisco purchased in 2007. Yuan was already a billionaire earlier than Covid-19, having taken Zoom public in April 2019 and impressed buyers with the mixture of quick development and profitability. Now he is one of many world’s 100 richest folks. His Zoom shares are value virtually $17 billion, in response to FactSet.

“I am very completely satisfied for him. Actually, I actually am,” mentioned Rob Bernshteyn, CEO of Coupa, whose cloud software program helps corporations hold observe of purchases. Bernshteyn has recognized Yuan for 4 or 5 years, and Coupa has lengthy been a Zoom buyer. The one factor that modified with Zoom utilization at Coupa is the corporate began letting staff use their company Zoom accounts for private conferences.

“I exploit the phrase completely satisfied,” Bernshteyn mentioned. “It is one of many issues he is mentioned from day one, wanting to verify this platform creates happiness. He positive as heck created an important platform and basis to maneuver in that path for lots of people who in any other case would not have been capable of be linked.”

Coupa’s inventory has elevated 144% this 12 months, an ascent that hardly matches Zoom’s however nonetheless highlights a 2020 development.

“If digital transformation is accelerating, we most likely wish to be behind among the corporations which can be driving that into the world,” Bernshteyn mentioned, making an attempt to articulate what buyers have been considering. The WisdomTree Cloud Computing Fund, an exchange-traded fund that tracks an index of cloud corporations maintained by venture-capital agency Bessemer, has grown 119% this 12 months.

Zoom’s growth hasn’t at all times come simply. Within the spring, after Zoom discovered itself on the receiving finish of unprecedented demand, the corporate was additionally bombarded with issues in regards to the software program’s privateness and safety. Then got here the questions on Zoom and Yuan’s connections to China. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the Home of Representatives, known as Zoom a Chinese language entity on reside tv.

Yuan responded by issuing a put up on a company weblog.

“I turned an American citizen in July 2007,” he wrote. “I’ve lived fortunately in America since 1997. Zoom is an American firm, based and headquartered in California, integrated in Delaware and publicly traded on Nasdaq.”

In June, after Zoom mentioned it had shut down accounts that had hosted conferences commemorating the 1989 protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Sq., after the Chinese language authorities had introduced the conferences to Zoom’s consideration. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican representing Missouri, despatched Yuan a letter saying his firm seems to have opted to assist censorship relatively than free speech. “Are you attempting to curry favor with the Chinese language Communist Occasion?” Hawley wrote.

Yuan instructed analysts on the corporate’s fiscal first-quarter earnings name in June that, between the utilization surge and what he known as unfavourable PR, he had been confronting critical strain. He mentioned that different CEOs conveyed their assist and provided recommendation.

Weeks later Subrah Iyar, the top of Webex on the time of the acquisition and an early Zoom investor, got here to Yuan’s protection.

“I’ve recognized Eric because the day he got here to the US,” Iyar mentioned in a video posted on his LinkedIn web page. “He is one of the vital honest people I’ve ever met. He embodied the tradition we tried to inculcate with Webex: a win-win with our clients, with our companions with our staff.”

All of the strain may effectively have been value it. At this time, in response to Bloomberg estimates, Yuan is value two occasions greater than Marc Benioff, co-founder and CEO of Salesforce, which has bought corporations cloud software program for to maintain observe of purchasers since 1999. At Salesforce’s investor day earlier this month Benioff, praised Zoom for the position it may play for salespeople who cannot meet with clients in individual.

“I do not assume there’s been a extra vital second in historical past for gross sales organizations, B2B gross sales organizations,” Benioff mentioned. “These gross sales organizations who didn’t automate, who didn’t know the way to use Zoom, who didn’t know the way to use Salesforce, they have been at a really vital drawback this 12 months.”

Benioff has a document of constructing donations, and his firm has lengthy offered grants to nonprofit organizations. Yuan is not there but, though this 12 months Zoom did introduce a charitable giving arm it calls Zoom Cares.

“Whereas the important thing long-term focuses of this basis are training, local weather change, and social fairness, our main grants in Q1 have been towards organizations making a distinction throughout Covid-19,” Yuan was quoted as saying in an announcement in June.

WATCH: Here is what could also be subsequent for Zoom after the Covid pandemic

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