Daily Crunch: Zoom launches its events marketplace

Zoom has a new marketplace and new integrations, Spotify gets a new format and we review Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go. This is your Daily Crunch for October 14, 2020.

The big story: Zoom launches its events marketplace

Zoom’s new OnZoom marketplace allows anyone to host and sell tickets for virtual events. It’s also integrating the ability for nonprofits to accept donations.

The company made a couple other announcements at its Zoomtopia user conference. For one thing, it’s also integrating with a starting lineup of 35 third-party “Zapps,” allowing products like Asana and Dropbox to integrate directly into the Zoom experience.

In addition, Zoom said it will begin rolling out end-to-end encryption (a feature it’s been promising since acquiring Keybase in May) to users next week.

The tech giants

Spotify introduces a new music-and-spoken word format, open to all creators — The new format is designed to reproduce the radio-like experience of listening to a DJ talk about the music, and it also enables the creation of music-filled podcasts.

Microsoft reverse engineers a budget computer with the Surface Laptop Go — Brian Heater writes that the Laptop Go is a strange and sometimes successful mix of Surface design and budget decisions.

Google launches a suite of tech-powered tools for reporters, Journalist Studio — The suite includes a host of existing tools as well as two new products aimed at helping reporters search across large documents and visualizing data.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Getaround raises a $140M Series E amid rebound in short-distance travel — The rebound is real: I took my first Getaround this weekend.

Augury taps $55M for tech that predicts machine faults from vibration, sound and temperature — The startup works with large enterprises like Colgate and Heineken to maintain machines in their production and distribution lines.

Plenty has raised over $500M to grow fruits and veggies indoors — The funding was led by existing investor SoftBank Vision Fund and included the berry farming giant Driscoll’s.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

What the iPhone 12 tells us about the state of the smartphone industry in 2020 — While the iPhone 12 was no doubt in development long before the current pandemic, the pandemic’s global shutdown has only exacerbated many existing problems for smartphone makers.

Databricks crossed $350M run rate in Q3, up from $200M one year ago — The data analytics company scaled rapidly to put itself on an obvious IPO path.

Dear Sophie: I came on a B-1 visa, then COVID-19 happened. How can I stay? — The latest advice from immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. And we’re having a fall sale!)

Everything else

NASA loads 14 companies with $370M for ‘tipping point’ technologies — NASA has announced more than a third of a billion dollars’ worth of “Tipping Point” contracts awarded to over a dozen companies pursuing potentially transformative space technologies.

Harley-Davidson should keep making e-motorcycles — That’s Jake Bright’s takeaway after three weeks with the LiveWire e-motorcycle.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.


By Anthony Ha

Zoom to start first phase of E2E encryption rollout next week

Zoom will begin rolling out end-to-end encryption to users of its videoconferencing platform from next week, it said today.

The platform, whose fortunes have been supercharged by the pandemic-driven boom in remote working and socializing this year, has been working on rebooting its battered reputation in the areas of security and privacy since April — after it was called out on misleading marketing claims of having E2E encryption (when it did not). E2E is now finally on its way though.

“We’re excited to announce that starting next week, Zoom’s end-to-end encryption (E2EE) offering will be available as a technical preview, which means we’re proactively soliciting feedback from users for the first 30 days,” it writes in a blog post. “Zoom users — free and paid — around the world can host up to 200 participants in an E2EE meeting on Zoom, providing increased privacy and security for your Zoom sessions.”

Zoom acquired Keybase in May, saying then that it was aiming to develop “the most broadly used enterprise end-to-end encryption offering”.

However, initially, CEO Eric Yuan said this level of encryption would be reserved for fee-paying users only. But after facing a storm of criticism the company enacted a swift U-turn — saying in June that all users would be provided with the highest level of security, regardless of whether they are paying to use its service or not.

Zoom confirmed today that Free/Basics users who want to get access to E2EE will need to participate in a one-time verification process — in which it will ask them to provide additional pieces of information, such as verifying a phone number via text message — saying it’s implementing this to try to reduce “mass creation of abusive accounts”.

“We are confident that by implementing risk-based authentication, in combination with our current mix of tools — including our work with human rights and children’s safety organizations and our users’ ability to lock down a meeting, report abuse, and a myriad of other features made available as part of our security icon — we can continue to enhance the safety of our users,” it writes.

Next week’s roll out of a technical preview is phase 1 of a four-stage process to bring E2E encryption to the platform.

This means there are some limitations — including on the features that are available in E2EE Zoom meetings (you won’t have access to join before host, cloud recording, streaming, live transcription, Breakout Rooms, polling, 1:1 private chat, and meeting reactions); and on the clients that can be used to join meetings (for phase 1 all E2EE meeting participants must join from the Zoom desktop client, mobile app, or Zoom Rooms). 

The next phase of the E2EE rollout — which will include “better identity management and E2EE SSO integration”, per Zoom’s blog — is “tentatively” slated for 2021.

From next week, customers wanting to check out the technical preview must enable E2EE meetings at the account level and opt-in to E2EE on a per-meeting basis.

All meeting participants must have the E2EE setting enabled in order to join an E2EE meeting. Hosts can enable the setting for E2EE at the account, group, and user level and can be locked at the account or group level, Zoom notes in an FAQ.

The AES 256-bit GCM encryption that’s being used is the same as Zoom currently uses but here combined with public key cryptography — which means the keys are generated locally, by the meeting host, before being distributed to participants, rather than Zoom’s cloud performing the key generating role.

“Zoom’s servers become oblivious relays and never see the encryption keys required to decrypt the meeting contents,” it explains of the E2EE implementation.

If you’re wondering how you can be sure you’ve joined an E2EE Zoom meeting a dark padlock will be displayed atop the green shield icon in the upper left corner of the meeting screen. (Zoom’s standard GCM encryption shows a checkmark here.)

Meeting participants will also see the meeting leader’s security code — which they can use to verify the connection is secure. “The host can read this code out loud, and all participants can check that their clients display the same code,” Zoom notes.


By Natasha Lomas

Oracle’s TikTok and Zoom deals won’t move cloud market share needle significantly

While the overall cloud infrastructure market is booming having reached $30 billion last quarter worldwide, Oracle is struggling with market share in the low single digits. It is hoping that the Zoom and TikTok deals can jump start those numbers, but trying to catch the market leaders Amazon, Microsoft and Google, never mind several other companies ahead of it, is going to take a lot more than a couple of brand name customers.

By now, you know Oracle and TikTok were joined together in unholy acquisition matrimony last month in the acquisition equivalent of a shotgun wedding. In spite of that, Oracle founder and chief technology officer Larry Ellison gushed in a September 19th press release about how TikTok had “chosen” his company’s cloud infrastructure service. The statement also indicated that this “choice” was influenced by Zoom’s decision to move some percentage of its workloads to Oracle’s infrastructure cloud earlier this year.

The mechanics of the TikTok deal aside, the question is how big an effect will these two customers have on the company’s overall cloud infrastructure market share. We asked a couple of firms who closely watches all things cloud.

John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy Research Group, wasn’t terribly optimistic that they would have much material impact on moving the market share needle for the database giant. “Oracle’s cloud infrastructure services growth has been consistently below overall IaaS and PaaS market growth rates so its market share has [actually] been nudging downwards. Zoom may be a good win but it is unlikely to move the needle too much — and remember Zoom also buys cloud services from AWS,” Dinsdale told TechCrunch.

As for TikTok, Dinsdale like the rest of us wasn’t clear how that deal would ultimately play out, but he says even with both companies in the fold, it wasn’t going to shift market share as much as Oracle might hope. “Hypothetically, even if Zoom/TikTok helped Oracle increase its cloud infrastructure service revenues 50% over 12 months, which would be a real stretch, its market share would still be nearer to 2% than 3%. This compares with Google at 9%, Microsoft 18% and AWS 33%,” Dinsdale said.

He did point out that the company’s SaaS business is much stronger. “Broadening the scope a little to other cloud services, Oracle’s SaaS growth is running roughly in line with overall market SaaS market growth so market share is steady. Oracle’s share of the total enterprise SaaS market is running at around 6%, though if you drill down to the ERP segment it is obviously doing much better than that,” he said.

Canalys, another firm that follows the cloud infrastructure market says their numbers tell a similar story for Oracle. While it’s doing well in Saas with 7.8% market share, it’s struggling in IaaS/PaaS.

“For IaaS/PaaS, Oracle Cloud is at 1.9% for Q2 2020 and that isn’t moving much. The top 3 providers are AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, who have 30.8%, 20.2% and 6.2% respectively,” Blake Murray from Canalys told TechCrunch.

It’s worth keeping in mind that Google hired Diane Greene five years ago with the hope of accelerating its cloud infrastructure business. Former Oracle exec Thomas Kurian replaced her two years ago and the company’s market share still hasn’t reached double digits in spite of a period of big overall market growth, showing how much of a challenge it is to move the needle in a significant way.

Another big company, IBM bought Red Hat two years ago for $34 billion with an eye towards improving its cloud business, and while Red Hat has continued to do well, It does not seem to have much impact on the company’s overall cloud infrastructure market share, which has been superseded by Alibaba in fourth place, according to Synergy’s numbers. Both companies are in the single digits.

Synergy Research Q2 2020 cloud infrastructure market share graphs

Image Credits: Synergy Research

All that means, even with these two clients, the company still has a long way to go to be relevant in the cloud infrastructure arena in the near term. What’s unknown is if this new business will help act as lures for other new business over time, but for now it’s going to take a lot more than a couple of good deals to be relevant — and as Google and IBM have demonstrated, it’s extremely challenging to gain chunks of market share.


By Ron Miller

Meet the anti-antitrust startup club

When Congress called in tech CEOs to testify a few weeks ago, it felt like a defining moment. Hundreds of startups have become unicorns, with the largest worth more than $1 trillion (or perhaps $2 trillion). Indeed, modern tech companies have become so entrenched, Facebook is the only one of the Big Five American tech shops worth less than 13 figures.

The titanic valuations of many companies are predicated on current performance, cash on hand and lofty expectations for future growth. The pandemic has done little to stem Big Tech’s forward march and many startups have seen growth rates accelerate as other sectors rushed to support a suddenly remote workforce.

But inside tech’s current moment in the sun is a concern that Congress worked to highlight: are these firms behaving anti-competitively?

By now you’ve heard the arguments concerning why Big Tech may be too big, but there’s a neat second story that we, the Equity crew, have been chatting about: some startups are racing into the big kill zone.

They have to be a bit foolhardy to take on Google Gmail and Search, Amazon’s e-commerce platform or Apple’s App Store. Yet, there are startups targeting all of these categories and more, some flush with VC funding from investors who are eager to take a swing at tech’s biggest players

If the little companies manage to carve material market share for themselves, arguments that Big Tech was just too big to kill — let alone fail — will dissolve. But today, their incumbency is a reality and these startups are merely bold.

Still, when we look at the work being done, there are enough companies staring down the most valuable companies in American history (on an unadjusted basis) that we had to shout them out. Say hello to the “anti-antitrust club.”

Hey and Superhuman are coming after Gmail

Gmail has been the undisputed leader in consumer email for years (if not enterprise email, where Microsoft has massive inroads due to Exchange and Outlook). Startups have contested that market, including Mailbox, which sold to Dropbox for about $100 million back in 2013, but whenever a new feature came along that might entice users, Gmail managed to suck it up into its app.


By Natasha Mascarenhas

Zoom UX teardown: 5 fails and how to fix them

Valued at over $60 billion and used by millions each day for work and staying in touch with friends and family, the COVID-19 pandemic has helped make Zoom one of the most popular and relevant enterprise applications.

On one level, its surge to the top can be summed up in three words: “It just works.” However, that doesn’t mean Zoom’s user experience is perfect — in fact, far from it.

With the help of Built for Mars founder and UX expert Peter Ramsey, we dive deeper into the user experience of Zoom on Mac, highlighting five UX fails and how to fix them. More broadly, we discuss how to design for “empty states,” why asking “copy to clipboard” requests are problematic and other issues.

Always point to the next action

This is an incredibly simple rule, yet you’d be surprised how often software and websites leave users scratching their heads trying to figure what they’re expected to do next. Clear signposting and contextual user prompts are key.

The fail: In Zoom, as soon as you create a meeting, you’re sat in an empty meeting room on your own. This sucks, because obviously you want to invite people in. Otherwise, why are you using Zoom? Another problem here is that the next action is hidden in a busy menu with other actions you probably never or rarely use.

The fix: Once you’ve created a meeting (not joined, but created), Zoom should prompt and signpost you how to add people. Sure, have a skip option. But it needs some way of saying “Okay, do this next.”

Steve O’Hear: Not pointing to the next action seems to be quite a common fail, why do you think this is? If I had to guess, product developers become too close to a product and develop a mindset that assumes too much prior knowledge and where the obvious blurs with the nonobvious?


By Steve O’Hear

Emergence’s Jason Green thinks some of the tech backlash is justified, but the B2B opportunities still outweigh the challenges

Jason Green, co-founder and partner at Emergence, is one of the leading VCs investing in enterprise startups at the moment. But even with the focus on B2B, many of their companies have become household names — Zoom, Yammer, Box and Salesforce among them.

Now, we’re all living in a climate where everything has been turned upside down. Meetings are virtual, the future economy and collective health of the world are unknowns, and being an investor — or a founder — comes with completely new parameters and rules of engagement.

We sat down with Green for an enlightening hour to talk about the challenges of all that, plus making deals, running a business, and suddenly finding your quiet, B2B name being turned into a verb. It was an interesting conversation, worth a read for enterprise startups and investors, but — similar to how B2B can spill into consumer — equally insightful for many more.

Extra Crunch Live is our new virtual speaker series for Extra Crunch members. Folks can ask their own questions live during the chat, with guests that include Aileen Lee, Kirsten Green, Mark Cuban and many, many more. You can check out the schedule here.

Below, you’ll find a lightly edited transcript of our recent chat with Green.

How is sourcing impacted in the current climate?

Sourcing is not much different. We follow the same due diligence process, so when we make an investment, the whole team basically dives in and does due diligence. So we make manager references and customer calls and spend time with each of the management team having one-on-ones. In some ways, it was better. First of all, we could very easily do breakout rooms with each of the individual management team members and then come back. So there was this dynamism to the meeting that we hadn’t had before. We were able to basically record it and share it with folks that couldn’t participate. So all of us had all the information when we were making the decision together. That was pretty special, actually. So it took a little bit longer, it probably took about 50% longer than we would have done otherwise. But I think actually, now knowing what we’ve done, we could probably compress it back to our normal timeframe. So I think in a lot of ways, we’ve learned like a lot of folks that we can do things remotely that we probably didn’t think were possible before. Hopefully, we’ll see how the investment turns out, but we’re super excited about it.

Are you considering more startups outside the Valley, and how are they viewing their own place outside the Valley?


By Ingrid Lunden

Zoom introduces all-in-one home communications appliance for $599

Zoom has become the de facto standard for online communications during the pandemic, but the company has found that it’s still a struggle for many employees to set up the equipment and the software to run a meeting effectively. The company’s answer is an all-in-one communications appliance with Zoom software ready to roll in a simple touch interface.

The device dubbed the Zoom for Home – DTEN ME, is being produced by partner DTEN. It consists of a stand-alone 27 inch screen, essentially a large tablet equipped with three wide-angle cameras designed for high-resolution video and 8 microphones. Zoom software is pre-loaded on the device and the interface is designed to provide easy access to popular Zoom features.

Zoom for Home – DTEN ME with screen sharing on. Image Credit: Zoom

Jeff Smith, head of Zoom Rooms, says that the idea is to offer an appliance that you can pull out of the box and it’s ready to use with minimal fuss. “Zoom for Home is an initiative from Zoom that allows any Zoom user to deploy a personal collaboration device for their video meetings, phone calls, interactive whiteboard annotation — all the good stuff that you want to do on Zoom, you can do with a dedicated purpose-built device,” Smith told TechCrunch.

He says this is designed with simplicity in mind, so that you pull it out of the box and launch the interface by entering a pairing code on a website on your laptop or mobile phone. Once the interface appears, you simply touch the function you want such as making a phone call or starting a meeting and it connects automatically.

Image Credits: Zoom

You can link it to your calendar so that all your meetings appear in a sidebar, and you just touch the next meeting to connect. If you need to share your screen it includes ultrasonic pairing between the appliance and your laptop or mobile phone. This works like Bluetooth, but instead of sending out a radio signal, it sends out a sound between 18 and 22 kHz, which most people can’t hear, to connect the two devices, Smith said.

Smith says Zoom will launch with two additional partners including the Neat Bar and the Poly Studio X Series, and could add other partners in the future.

The DTEN appliance will cost $599 and works with an existing Zoom license. The company is taking pre-orders and the devices are expected to ship next month.


By Ron Miller

Zoom announces new Hardware as a Service offering to run on ServiceNow

Zoom announced a new Hardware as a Service offering today that will run on the ServiceNow platform. At the same time the company announced a deal with ServiceNow to standardize on Zoom and Zoom Phone for its 11,000 employees in another case of SaaS cooperation.

For starters, the new Hardware as a Service offering allows customers, who use the Zoom Phone and Zoom Rooms software to acquire related hardware from the company for a fixed monthly cost. The company announced that initial solutions providers will include DTEN, Neat, Poly and Yealink.

The new service allows companies to access low-cost hardware and pay for the software and hardware on a single invoice. This could result in lower up-front costs, while simplifying the bookkeeping associated with a customer’s online communications options.

Companies can start small if they wish, then add additional hardware over time as needs change, and they can also opt for a fully managed service, where a third party can deal with installation and management of the hardware if that’s what a customer requires.

Zoom will run the new service on ServiceNow’s Now platform, which provides a way to manage the service requests as they come in. And in a case of one SaaS hand washing the other, ServiceNow has standardized on the Zoom platform for its internal communications tool, which has become increasingly important as the pandemic has moved employees to work from home. The company also plans to replace its current phone system with Zoom Phones.

One of the defining characteristics of SaaS companies, and a major difference from previous generations of tech companies, has been the willingness of these organizations to work together to string together sets of services when it makes sense. These kinds of partnerships, not only benefit the companies involved, they tend to be a win for customers too.

Brent Leary, founder at CRM Essentials sees this as a deal between two rising SaaS stars, and one that benefits both companies. “Everyone and their mother is announcing partnerships with Zoom, focusing on integrating video communications into core focus areas. But this partnership looks to be much more substantial than most with ServiceNow not only partnering with Zoom for tighter video communication capabilities, but also displacing its current phone system with Zoom Phone,” Leary told TechCrunch.


By Ron Miller

SaaS earnings rise as pandemic pushes companies more rapidly to the cloud

As the pandemic surged and companies moved from offices to working at home, they needed tools to ensure the continuity of their business operations. SaaS companies have always been focused on allowing work from anywhere there’s access to a computer and internet connection, and while the economy is reeling from COVID-19 fallout, modern software companies are thriving.

That’s because the pandemic has forced companies that might have been thinking about moving to the cloud to find tools what will get them there much faster. SaaS companies like Zoom, Box, Slack, Okta and Salesforce were there to help; cloud security companies like CrowdStrike also benefited.

While it’s too soon to say how the pandemic will affect work long term when it’s safe for all employees to return to the office, it seems that companies have learned that you can work from anywhere and still get work done, something that could change how we think about working in the future.

One thing is clear: SaaS companies that have reported recent earnings have done well, with Zoom being the most successful example. Revenue was up an eye-popping 169% year-over-year as the world shifted in a big way to online meetings, swelling its balance sheet.

There is a clear connection between the domestic economy’s rapid transition to the cloud and the earnings reports we are seeing — from infrastructure to software and services. The pandemic is forcing a big change to happen faster than we ever imagined.

Big numbers

Zoom and CrowdStrike are two companies expected to grow rapidly thanks to the recent acceleration of the digital transformation of work. Their earnings reports this week made those expectations concrete, with both firms beating expectations while posting impressive revenue growth and profitability results.


By Ron Miller

Daily Crunch: Zoom reports spectacular growth

Zoom’s latest earnings report was even better than expected, SoftBank announces a new fund to invest in founders of color and Google pulls a trending app that targets apps from China.

Here’s your Daily Crunch for June 3, 2020.

1. Remote work helps Zoom grow 169% in one year, posting $328.2M in Q1 revenue

Zoom’s customer numbers were similarly sharp, with the firm reporting that it had 265,400 customers with more than 10 seats (employees) at the end of the quarter, which was up 354% from the year-ago period.

Not all of the news coming out of its latest earnings report was positive, however. CEO Eric Yuan confirmed that a plan to implement end-to-end encryption does not in fact extend to non-paying users.

2. SoftBank launches $100M+ Opportunity Growth Fund to invest in founders of color

The Opportunity Growth Fund “will only invest in companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color,” according to an internal memo from SoftBank’s COO Marcelo Claure, who said the fund will initially start with $100 million — meaning there is room for SoftBank or other limited partners to add more over time.

3. Google pulls ‘Remove China Apps’ from Play Store

The top trending app in India, which was downloaded more than 5 million times since late May and enabled users to detect and easily delete apps developed by Chinese firms, was pulled from Android’s marquee app store for violating Google Play Store’s Deceptive Behavior Policy.

4. Facebook and PayPal invest in Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant Gojek

Facebook and PayPal are joining Google and Tencent as high-profile tech firms that have backed the five-year-old Southeast Asian ride-hailing startup, which also offers food delivery and mobile payments.

5. The fundraising marketplace has stabilized. Or has it?

DocSend CEO Russ Heddleston said the last two weeks could be establishing a new normal for fundraising this year. Even though most VCs aren’t taking in-person meetings, they were more active in the past month than they were in May of both 2019 and 2018. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Venture firms rush to find ways to support Black founders and investors

Firms like Benchmark, Sequoia, Bessemer, Eniac Ventures, Work-Bench and SaaSTR Fund founder Jason Lemkin all tweeted in support of the cause and offered to take steps to improve the lack of representation in their industry. But some Black entrepreneurs and investors are questioning the firms’ motivations.

7. Lili raises $10M for its freelancer banking app

CEO Lilac Bar David suggested that no traditional banking solutions are really designed to solve the problems faced by freelancers — whether they’re designers, programmers, fitness instructors, chefs or beauty professionals. She described Lili as the first “all-in-one” solution, offering both a bank account and a broader suite of financial tracking tools.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.


By Anthony Ha

Remote work helps Zoom grow 169% in one year, posting $328.2M in Q1 revenue

Today after the bell, video-chat service Zoom reported its Q1 earnings. The company disclosed that it generated $328.2 million in revenue, up 169% compared to the year-ago period. The company also reported $0.20 per-share in adjusted profit during the three-month period.

Analysts, as averaged by Yahoo Finance, expected Zoom to report $202.48 million in revenue, and a per-share profit of $0.09. After its earnings smash, shares of Zoom were up slightly Update: Zoom shares are now up 2.3% ahead of its earnings call; investors had priced in this outsized-performance, it seems.

Zoom grew 78% in its preceding quarter on an annualized basis. The company’s growth acceleration is notable.

Investors were expecting big gains. Before its earnings, shares in the popular business-to-business service were up by more than 3x during the year; Zoom has found itself in an updraft due in part to COVID-19 driving workers and others to stay home and work remotely. Zoom’s software has also seen large purchase amongst consumers hungry for a video chatting solution that was simple and that works.

If the company could sustain its valuation gains going into this earnings report was an open question that has now been answered.

Gains

Zoom’s growth in its Q1 fiscal 2021 generated some notable profit results for the firm. The firm’s net income, an unadjusted profit metric, rose from $0.2 million in the year-ago quarter to $27.0 million in its most recent three months.

And Zoom’s cash generation was astounding. Here’s how the company described its results:

Net cash provided by operating activities was $259.0 million for the quarter, compared to $22.2 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020. Free cash flow was $251.7 million, compared to $15.3 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020.

It’s difficult to recall another company that has managed such growth in cash generation in such a short period of time, driven mostly by operations and not other financial acts. Zoom’s customer numbers were similarly sharp, with the firm reporting that it had 265,400 customers with more than 10 seats (employees) at the end of the quarter, which was up 354% from the year-ago period.

Though not all news for Zoom was good. Indeed, the company’s gross margin fell sharply in the quarter, compared to its year-ago result. In is Q1 fiscal 2020, Zoom reported a gross margin of around 80%. In its most recent quarter that number slipped to around 68%. In short, the company managed to convert many free users to paying customers, but still had to carry the costs of free usage of its product, something that has exploded in recent months.

Looking ahead, Zoom expects the current quarter to be another blockbuster period. The company noted in its release that it expects “between $495.0 million and $500.0 million” in revenue for Q2 of its fiscal 2021 (the current period). Looking ahead for the full fiscal year, Zoom anticipates revenues “between $1.775 billion and $1.800 billion,” numbers that take into account “the demand for remote work solutions for businesses” and “increased churn in the second half of the fiscal year” when some customers might no longer need Zoom if they can return to their offices.

Its shares might have priced in these results, but the numbers themselves are simply massive. Just three months ago Zoom turned in revenues of just $188.3 million. That’s less than it generated in free cash flow during its next three months.


By Alex Wilhelm

Is Zoom the next Android, or the next BlackBerry?

In business, there’s nothing so valuable as having the right product at the right time. Just ask Zoom, the hot cloud-based video conferencing platform experiencing explosive growth thanks to its sudden relevance in the age of sheltering in place.

Having worked at BlackBerry in its heyday in the early 2000s, I see a lot of parallels to what Zoom is going through right now. As Zooming into a video meeting or a classroom is today, so too was pulling out your BlackBerry to fire off an email or check your stocks circa 2002. Like Zoom, the company then known as Research in Motion had the right product for enterprise users that increasingly wanted to do business on the go.

Of course, BlackBerry’s story didn’t have a happy ending.

From 1999 to 2007, BlackBerry seemed totally unstoppable. But then Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, Google launched Android and all of the chinks in the BlackBerry armor started coming undone, one by one. How can Zoom avoid the same fate?

As someone who was at both BlackBerry and Android during their heydays, my biggest takeaway is that product experience trumps everything else. It’s more important than security (an issue Zoom is getting blasted about right now), what CIOs want, your user install base and the larger brand identity.

When the iPhone was released, many people within BlackBerry rightly pointed out that we had a technical leg up on Apple in many areas important to business and enterprise users (not to mention the physical keyboard for quickly cranking out emails)… but how much did that advantage matter in the end? If there is serious market pull, the rest eventually gets figured out… a lesson I learned from my time at BlackBerry that I was lucky enough to be able to immediately apply when I joined Google to work on Android.


By Walter Thompson

Docket, a platform for organizing meeting agendas and notes, wins Zoom’s Marketplace App competition

In an episode of Extra Crunch Live last week, Roelof Botha expressed excitement not only about the shift to teleconference platforms like Zoom, but the apps and bots that may spring up on top of the Zoom ecosystem.

Interestingly, Zoom just announced the results of its Marketplace App competition, with Docket taking first place.

Docket was founded in January of 2019 with a mission to bring common sense to meetings. The company claims that more than 70 percent of meetings, both in-person and remote, happen without an agenda circulated before the meeting begins.

Docket starts from the premise that every meeting should have a prioritized, circulated agenda and then kicks it up a notch. The platform allows you to build and share that agenda, as well as take notes on meeting minutes and decisions made to share those after the fact. Docket also has a Task Manager feature, so users can share action items after the meeting to the folks that need to get things done.

Of course, Docket manages the notes, to-do lists and agendas from each respective meeting in an archive so you can go back and review the important information you need, as well as evaluate the productivity of individual meetings.

Docket integrates with Evernote, Slack and Zoom (of course). With the Docket Bot for Zoom, much of the platform’s functionality actually lives within Zoom. The agenda and recap notes appear directly in the Zoom chat, and meeting guests can take collaborative notes about the meeting without ever leaving their Zoom chat window.

Docket also retrieves the Zoom transcription and recording and attaches it directly to the respective Docket meeting as an artifact, letting you go back and search for the exact wording around a decision or meeting topic.

According to Crunchbase, Docket has $1.5 million in seed funding from startup studio High Alpha, Simon Equity Partners, Elevate Ventures, and Allos Ventures. Emergence Capital, Zoom’s largest investor, invested in High Alpha in 2015.

Zoom’s Marketplace App competition was announced at Zoomtopia in October of 2019. The winner, in this case Docket, was selected by Zoom as well as a variety of Zoom’s investors, including Emergence, Horizons Ventures, Maven Ventures, and Sequoia Capital.

Docket will receive up to $2 million in funding from these venture capital orgs, as well as an advisory session with Zoom’s top product leaders. The prize also includes priority development support from Zoom, a DTEN D7 55” all-in-one interactive whiteboard with a 3-year Zoom Rooms license, and 10 Zoom Pro licenses for three years.

Finalists from the competition include Ambition, Bloom, Discuss.io, Friday, iScribeHealth, Pledgeling, Session, Social27, and Tiled. All the finalists received a Logitech Pro Personal Video Collaboration Kit via a Logitech sponsorship of the competition.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect Docket’s investment from High Alpha, which itself has investment from Emergence Capital.


By Jordan Crook

Zoom consultant Alex Stamos weighs in on Keybase acquisition

When Zoom started having security issues in March, they turned to former Facebook and Yahoo! Security executive Alex Stamos, who signed on as a consultant to work directly with CEO Eric Yuan.

The goal was to build a more cohesive security strategy for the fast-growing company. One of the recommendations that came out of those meetings was building end-to-end encryption into the paid tier of the product. Those discussions led to the company buying Keybase this morning.

Stamos says in the big build versus buy debate that companies tend to go through when they are evaluating options, this fell somewhere in the middle. While they bought a company with a lot of expertise, it will still require Keybase engineers working with counterparts from Zoom and consultants like Stamos to build a final encrypted product.

“The truth is that what Zoom wants to do with end-to-end encryption, nobody’s really done, so there’s no product that you could just slap onto Zoom to turn it into key encryption. That’s going to have to be thought out from the beginning for the specific needs of an enterprise,” Stamos told TechCrunch.

But what they liked about Keybase in particular is that they have already thought through similar problems with file encryption and encrypted chat, and they want to turn the Keybase engineers loose on this problem.

“The design is going to be something that’s totally new. The great thing about Keybase is that they have already been through this process of thinking through and then crafting a design that is usable by normal people and that provides functionality while being somewhat invisible,” he said.

Because it’s a work in progress, it’s not possible to say when that final integration will happen, but Stamos did say that the company intends to publish a paper on May 22nd outlining its cryptographic plan moving forward, and then will have a period of public discussion before finalizing the design and moving into the integration phase.

He says that the first goal is to come up with a more highly secure version of Zoom meetings with end-to-end encryption enabled. At least initially, this will only be available for people using the Zoom client or Zoom-enabled hardware. You won’t be able to encrypt someone calling in, for instance.

As for folks who may be worried about Keybase being owned by Zoom, Stamos says, “The whole point of the Keybase design is that you don’t have to trust who owns their servers.”


By Ron Miller

Daily Crunch: Zoom acquires security startup Keybase

Zoom acquires some encryption expertise, Uber makes a big investment in scooters and we review the new 13-inch Macbook Pro.

Here’s your Daily Crunch for May 7, 2020.

1. Zoom acquires Keybase to get end-to-end encryption expertise

Keybase, whose encryption products include secure file sharing and collaboration tools, should give Zoom some security credibility as it goes through pandemic demand growing pains. A number of Zoom security issues have come to light the last couple of months as demand as soared and exposed security weaknesses in the platform.

Under the terms of the deal, Keybase will become a subsidiary of Zoom and co-founder and Max Krohn will lead the Zoom security engineering team, reporting directly to Yuan to help build the security product.

2. Uber leads $170 million Lime investment, offloads Jump to Lime

As part of the deal (which was reported earlier this week but is now official), Lime is also acquiring Uber’s micro-mobility subsidiary Jump. There will be more integrations between Uber and Jump in the future, but both apps will remain active for now.

3. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch review

With this week’s news, the 13-inch becomes the third and final member of the MacBook family to get the new keyboard. It’s not “Magic” as the name implies (Apple really does love the M-word), but Brian Heater says improvements are immediate and vast.

4. Nintendo sells a lot more Switches, as people stay and home playing Animal Crossing

The company says it has sold 21 million Switch units in the past year, handily beating a 19.5 million forecast. 6.2 million of those systems were the newer, cheaper Switch Lite, which hit the market in September. All of this comes as Nintendo has run up against shortage through a combination of increased popularity and a a global supply chain knocked off balance from COVID-19.

5. How will digital media survive the ad crash?

Bustle Digital Group’s Jason Wagenheim told us that he’s anticipating a 35% decline in ad revenue for this quarter. And where he’d once hoped BDG would reach $120 or $125 million in ad revenue this year, he’s now trying to figure out “what does our company look like at $75 or $90 million?” (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Apple awards $10 million to rapidly scale COVID-19 sample collection kit production

Apple has awarded $10 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to COPAN Diagnostics, a company focused on producing sample collection kits for testing COVID-19 to hospitals in the U.S. The money comes from the fund that Apple established to support the development and growth of U.S.-based manufacturing — to date, the fund has been used to support companies tied more directly to Apple’s own supply chain.

7. Sonos debuts new Arc soundbar, next-generation Sonos Sub, and Sonos Five speaker

Sonos has introduced a trio of new hardware today, adding three new smart speakers to its lineup, including the Sonos Arc soundbar that includes Dolby Atmos support, as well as Sonos Five, the next version of its Sonos Play:5 speaker, and a third-generation Sonos Sub.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.


By Anthony Ha