How Minimizing Frictions Disrupted an Industry
Updated: Jun 2, 2021
"In the midst of the economic devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, some businesses saw gains. Amazon hired hundreds of thousands of new workers. Home Depot braced for losses, but ended up a winner when locked- down customers began home improvement projects. "
There was only one company, though, that grew so quickly and became so ubiquitous that its brand became a generic name for its category. It may have taken years for “Google” to become synonymous with search, but it took only months for “Zoom” to become shorthand for video conferences and web meetings.
What drove Zoom’s explosive growth in the face of competition from giants like Cisco, Microsoft and Google? It was a relentless focus on minimizing friction (or, for economists, “frictions”) for its users.
With in-person meetings impossible, the Covid-19 crisis caused an enormous surge in demand for video. But, Zoom was growing rapidly long before Covid-19 shut down offices, events, and travel. The firm had actually surpassed its larger competitors in the years preceding the pandemic. The 2020 Businesses @ Work report from Okta notes, “Zoom was the #1 fastest growing video conferencing app in 2016, and it hasn’t slowed down since.
Over the past three years, Zoom has enjoyed an astounding 876% growth in number of customers in our network. For comparison, second-place Cisco Webex grew 91% over that same period.”
As with Amazon, the pandemic crisis simply accelerated Zoom’s already robust growth. They added more than 100,000 paying customers and quadrupled their revenue in the first half of 2020.
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