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April | 2021“Everyone is talking about the future of work. But few are asking the most fundamental question: What should that work be?”
John Hagel, management consultant and author
If you have ever experienced whitewater rapids, you know the exhilarating sensation of making hairpin turns to avoid rocks; changing direction every few seconds; and trusting your team, your very wet, adrenaline-pumped team, as you cut through rushing currents. Few have navigated the treacherous Covid-19 rapids as deftly as Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, the now ubiquitous videoconferencing technology company. Zoom was founded in 2011 when the videoconferencing market was already in full swing. That same year, Microsoft bought Skype for US$8.5 billion. Four years earlier, Cisco, the internet networking giant, bought WebEx, another leading videoconferencing company, for US$3.2 billion. Yet when the world went into quarantine, and businesses and schools relocated to living rooms, everyone learned to Zoom.
Though Yuan and his team had trained on responding to natural disasters in the run-up to going public in 2019, they never imagined they would face the size of the surge in demand. But they were prepared: Zoom’s data centers were set up to handle traffic surges of 10 to 100 times normal, Yuan says. Zoom did not miss a beat when, overnight, everybody realized they needed a tool like Zoom to connect their people. In a typical day early in the pandemic, 343,000 people globally downloaded the Zoom app, compared with 90,000 people worldwide just two months earlier, according to mobile intelligence firm Apptopia. That’s almost four times as many downloads in a single day. With engineering teams across the globe, Zoom was able to remotely monitor its systems around the clock.
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