India’s online education sector was moving at a good clip before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the contagion accelerated its progress at an incredible rate.
With students and educators confined to their homes, US-based video conferencing platform Zoom stepped up its game to empower schools and institutes to continue operations effectively via its ‘Zoom for Education’ initiative.
Speaking to YourStory, Aparna Bawa, Chief Operation Officer (COO) of Zoom Video Communications, says the platform was adopted by more than 100,000 schools in 25 countries to continue remote education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
She adds that India is an important market for Zoom, which is why it removed the 40-minute limit on free basic accounts for schools in India along with Australia and New Zealand in March.
Last week, at a press conference, the company also announced its plans to launch a new technology centre in Bengaluru, which will be its new innovation hub and, to extensively hire in India over the next few years.
“In March, we lifted the 40-minute time limit for free basic accounts for K-12 schools in India. Globally, we are committed to providing more tools and resources for educators. India is an important market, but our products and offerings are consistent across the world,” Aparna says.
Increased use cases
According to the COO, Zoom’s mission when it was launched in 2011 by Eric Yuan was to facilitate workplace collaboration. Things changed with the COVID-19 pandemic as the video conferencing platform was adopted for various use cases.
The company remains focused on using its technology to ensure that school operations and education are not hampered amid the pandemic.
“When COVID-19 hit, we realised the importance of our responsibilities when people could not communicate with each other. We wanted to allow people to communicate in any use case, particularly school students,” Aparna says.
She says Zoom aims to make online classrooms safer with passwords that cannot be shared with others for students. The platform also offers a waiting room feature for students who are late or cannot enter the class.
According to Aparna, the increased use cases for Zoom led to an increase in the number of users. She said Zoom had 10 million people participating in meetings via Zoom every day at the end of December 2019. This number shot up to over 300 million people participating in Zoom meetings every day at the end of April 2020.
Meanwhile, this month, the company also launched the “Zoom for Home” device in partnership with DTEN.
“Features for the all-in-one 27-inch device include three built-in wide-angle cameras for high-resolution video; an eight-microphone array for crystal-clear audio in meetings and phone calls; and an ultra-responsive touch display for interactive screen sharing, whiteboarding, annotating, and ideation,” a company statement said.
Speaking about security, Aparna says the updated version comes with the “As256 bit GCM encryption” feature, and includes a security button that allows the host and co-host to scan security features.
When asked about the recent security lapse in April where 500,000 passwords were stolen and were up for sale on the dark web, Aparna says there “has been no security breach at Zoom”.
“What happens is when consumers use one password for several accounts, one account can get breached and that leads to breach in other accounts. This is happening on the dark web and, to my knowledge, has nothing to do with Zoom,” Aparna says.
Business model and revenue
The communications technology company now offers four subscription plans: a basic plan for free personal meetings, pro plan for small teams; business plan for a minimum of 10 hosts; and enterprise plan for 100 hosts per month.
According to Zoom’s financials published in June 2020, the company clocked revenue of $328.2 million for the first quarter fiscal year 2021, an increase of 169 percent year on year.
Zoom said it had approximately 2,65,400 clients with more than 10 employees at the end of the first quarter. Apart from this, 769 clients contributed more than $100,000 in trailing 12 months’ revenue. In the second quarter, the company is expecting revenue between $495 and $500 million.