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Interview with AlwaysOn Winner Zoom Head of Product - Nick Chong

Congratulations for being named AlwaysOn "Cloud Company to Watch". Please tell us, what is Zoom video communications all about and what do you do?

Nick Chong: Zoom is a cloud meeting company that unifies video conferencing, online meetings and group messaging into an easy-to-use service, ZoomPresence. We create a people-centric cloud service that dramatically simplifies the real-time communications and collaboration experience. We offer the best video, screen-sharing and group messaging experience across Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, H.323/SIP room systems.

What are you launching now? Please tell us about your new product, ZoomPresence and Zoom version 3.0?

Chong: Zoom version 3.0 is our biggest release ever; featuring two key innovations: ZoomPresence and group messaging.

ZoomPresence is the first conference-room collaboration solution created with the Apple experience (Mac OS and iOS) in mind. It lets anyone start a video meeting for up to 100 participants with a single tap on an iPad. Participants can easily screen-share documents, apps and photos from their desktops, tablets and other mobile devices.

Our group messaging is the first business messaging tool that integrates messaging with meetings. Participants can send text, images and push-to-talk voice messages, and start a 100-person video and screen-sharing meeting with one click. It also works across desktops, tablets and mobile devices.

Who is your target audience and how do you intend to reach them?

Chong: Our target audience is anyone and everyone who has a need for high-quality video conferencing and group collaboration experiences. We have over 20,000 global businesses and 1,500 higher education institutions as customers already. We reach our target audience by offering them our feature-rich free version at https://zoom.us/signup for them to try out. Unlike our competitors' free trials that last for two weeks, our free version is perpetual. When the customers are completely satisfied with our free service, they can simply upgrade to our pro, paid version on their own timeline.

I'd be curious to hear any general thoughts you have on video conferencing and collaboration market trends.

Chong: Conferencing is everyone's primary mode of group communications. Audio, video and Web conferencing is a $5 billion industry. But, traditional services are often disjointed in terms of solutions and experience. People pay for three different conferencing services and maintain three different sets of product experiences. Moreover, they are expensive and do not work for cloud-based and BYOD (bring-your-own-device) business environments.  A true cloud offering is designed with unified simplicity, high quality and affordability. This is what customers expect as their businesses shift to the cloud and BYOD models.

What is the viral aspect of your product?

Chong: Zoom's viral aspect depends largely on our participants' word-of-mouth. When a meeting starts, up to 100 participants can join the meeting. When they enjoyed the experience, they start their own meetings or tell others to try out Zoom. This viral word-of-mouth has propelled over 15 million participants to try Zoom. Like any viral product, the experience matters most.

How will you make money? What's the business model?

Chong: Zoom offers a free version for desktop, tablet and mobile users. It has many business features, such as unlimited 25-person meetings with 40-minutes duration. The pro version is $9.99 per month for 25-person meetings or $49.99 per month for 100-person meetings with no time limit.

Who are your competitors?

Chong: There are traditional players such as GoToMeeting, WebEx and Join.Me for online meetings, and Polycom and Lifesize for video conferencing. The online meeting solutions were created for the PC era while the video conferencing solutions were designed with expensive, proprietary hardware. Zoom changes everything-it is designed for cloud and BYOD so users can load apps on the devices they already have, whether they be Mac, PC, iOS or Android.

Our team of developers hail from Cisco and WebEx. We have experience in building top-notch solutions. If Zoom is compared to any other solution, Zoom always comes out ahead.

How do you differentiate from your competitors?

Chong: We provide the best video and audio quality on the market, our solution is easy to use, and we have the most powerful screen-sharing features in the industry. Users can screen-share documents, video clips and even iOS apps. Our mobile screen-sharing and cross-platform co-annotation features are the first in the world; similarly with ZoomPresence and our group messaging.

What business or technology could yours disrupt?

Chong: The conferencing market is set for disruption. Traditional audio, Web and video conferencing solutions were designed decades ago for the PC-era. Zoom brings conferencing to the cloud, post-PC era by unifying video, online and messaging into a cloud platform, offering unprecedented simplicity, quality and affordability. Incidentally, this is a natural disruption.

Who founded the company, when? What can you tell me about the story of the company's founding?

Chong: Zoom was founded in 2011 by experienced leaders and engineers from Cisco and WebEx. Every founding engineer has over 10 years of real-time video and collaboration software experience. We wanted to develop a people-centric cloud service that transforms the real-time collaboration experience and improves the quality and effectiveness of communications, and it is for this reason that we launched Zoom three years ago.

What is your distribution model? Where to buy your product?

Chong: We offer a self-service model so you can start a meeting in minutes. You simply sign up at https://zoom.us or download our app from the AppStore or Google Play. You can choose to use the free plan or upgrade to our pro plan, as well as choose additional add-on features, such as toll-free calling, room system integration or webinars.

What's next on your product roadmap?

Chong: Our 3.0 version is packed with over 50 new features and enhancements to offer the best conferencing experience ever for global businesses. Going forward, we will continue to enhance our products to offer even richer features to markets such as healthcare, education, legal and financial.

Are you targeting a first VC round? If yes when and what will you use the funds for?

Chong: We currently have $15.5 million in funding obtained through our seed round, series A and series B rounds.

Zoom, the cloud meeting company, unifies cloud video conferencing, simple online meetings, and mobile collaboration into one easy-to-use platform. Our solution offers the best video, audio and screen-sharing experience across Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, H.323/SIP room systems, and ZoomPresence.

Zoom was founded in 2011 by experienced leaders and engineers from Cisco and WebEx. Every founding engineer has over 10 years of real-time collaboration software experience. Our mission is to develop a people-centric cloud service that transforms the real-time collaboration experience and improves the quality and effectiveness of communications. To learn more about Zoom and ZoomPresence, please visit https://www.zoom.us.

More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel, Tech blogger and SVP of Transform PR/San Francisco- Mountain View. She mainly writes about B2B solutions, social media and open source software. Transform Public Relations is a full-service PR agency, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. The agency is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. Buy her a coffee if you like her article: http://xeniar.tip.me