Aparna Bawa, a lawyer who changed work from home for all, COO at Zoom video communication, joined NewsX from California for an exclusive interview. Aparna is a part of the team that’s helping keep the world connected. Addressing the sudden pandemic the world is facing, Aparna said, “I don’t think anyone can be prepared for a pandemic, the pandemic hit us just like it hit the rest of the world and honestly, in our thinking of how to respond to this pandemic, we realised that our service provides a key ability to connect”.
She said that one can’t do that in-person anymore. They realised that their service was critical to keeping family connections, keeping business connections alive. And so, it was a no brainer for them to respond to the call and yes, it’s been extremely hectic, the entire Zoom family has been working day and night working through so many hours answering the call. It was an incredible obligation and privilege to be of service at this time for people all over the world and it’s been incredible.
When they were at the end of December, they were solidly focused on workplace collaboration, she said, “That has been our focus from the time we were founded. After this pandemic began, we realised that people were using us to connect, we also very importantly realised that we were a conduit providing continuity for educators for schools that were looking to keep children occupied when their parents were pretty stressed. We took it upon ourselves to provide free services for education”.
Bawa started this trend where people started to realise that they could use Zoom for their wedding, yoga class, funeral, to talk with their relatives and also as used to bridge the economic gap and continue in sort of her economic endeavours. She stated, “So whether you are talking about large enterprises who founded Zoom as a way to continue with the productivity of their employees down to your yoga teacher to continue their craft and get an expanded audience regardless of where you are, suddenly the world is your oyster. These sort of changes impacted us tremendously”.
Aparna said that the company, their back-end infrastructure is based on an extremely scalable architecture. “Even then, we went from 10 million daily users every day, both free and paid by the end of December and we reached 300 million daily users in April”. That is tremendous growth, Aparna thinks that not everyone can plan for that.
She said, “Hats off” to their engineering and Dev Ops teams for making sure there was no outage and so it was incredible to watch that team and the rest of the company to deliver this service to their customers. She added, “We have stopped going to the office around the March time frame and so we had receptionists at the front desk of the building stepping in for billing teams”.
Setting examples for team work, they had events people on Desk Management as there were no events to be arranged. The entire company worked together to pull this off and it’s been a tremendous testament to team-work.Talking about competition, Aparna said that it doesn’t bother them, “If someone thinks back to when they were founded, video conferencing was not a new space, they already had to contend with very large incumbent tech vendors. She also said that, “Competition is something that we think drives us to innovate more, it makes us hungrier. So we welcome the competition, it makes us a little more paranoid to keep delivering value to our customers. I would also say that there are so many factors that make Zoom special and make our service superior”.
Talking about the USP of Zoom, she said that Zoom’s UI is one aspect as it’s very clean and easy to use from the user’s perspective but there’s so much more in the backend. “As I said earlier, we were able to scale up from 10 to 300 million daily meeting participants, the service has to support all that capacity and the video and audio quality still has to be good. Our back-end architecture is scalable and very innovative and given the culture of the company has an all-in mentality”
According to Aparna, It is their culture that listens to customer feedback all the time and that they are always incorporating the feedback into its service. “I would say all of those make Zoom very special and add up to its secret sauce, which I would say is hard to compete with”.Clearing the clouds around Zoom being a Chinese company, Bawa said that Zoom is a US company, their CEO is ethnically Chinese but he had lived in America since 1997. “He’s the example of the American dream”. Talking about the future plans of Zoom, Aparna said that their singular goal is to deliver value to their customers. The mission of Zoom is to provide frictionless video quality with safety and security to its customers.