Navigating a New Chapter for Zoom

Navigating a New Chapter for Zoom

Many people have asked me what the experience of running Zoom has been like recently. I would like to share, from my perspective, what has happened at Zoom these past few weeks. I am fortunate to witness our company helping millions of people during an extremely difficult time. It has also been challenging for us, with opportunities for us to drive meaningful change and improvement. 

The Beginning

For me, this pandemic was a slow trickle that quickly transformed into a fire hose. It started with reports that there was a mysterious disease thousands of miles away. Then, suddenly, the world was closing off in a necessary act of protection. People sheltered at home; they couldn’t go to work or see their families. Their children couldn’t go to school.

Then, just about everyone, it seemed, was Zooming. Families, students, teachers, employees, healthcare workers, patients, everyone started connecting and seeing each other on Zoom. We were so proud! It is indescribable to watch something that you’ve built from the ground up help people in so many different ways. We ramped up to meet the incredible demand, working around the clock to add network capacity and provide support to everyone new to Zoom. 

We knew that many educators were already using Zoom, but we felt we could do more to help.  We decided to give Zoom for free to over 100,000 K-12 schools around the world. We didn’t know if these schools would need Zoom for just a few weeks or for longer, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

Meeting Disrupters

With all of the attention, new consumer Zoomers, and the increased use of Zoom for large public meetings, we began to see uninvited, offensive, and sometimes even truly evil people disrupting meetings. By and large, this wasn’t something we had experienced with our business-focused customers. Zoom already had built-in security features like passwords and waiting rooms, but they were not default or mandatory. We failed to set pre-configured security features for our new customers, especially for schools. Instead, we assumed they would understand our platform like our business customers understand our platform and customize these features themselves. Most schools were scrambling to quickly create their first-ever distance learning programs and did not have IT teams to help.  

As fast as we could, we put out blog posts, videos, and training guides to help new meeting hosts, especially teachers, understand how to set up secure meetings. We also made settings like passwords, waiting rooms, and limited screen sharing mandatory for K-12 accounts. We introduced new features like the Security icon to put all of these protections in one easy-to-find place. These settings, used together, should make it very hard for an uninvited guest to join a Zoom meeting.

Security and Privacy Concerns

Something happens when you’re suddenly one of the most talked-about services in the world. You get put under a microscope. So during this same time, several zero-day security vulnerabilities were made public practically at once. All were patched quickly, but vulnerabilities announced one after another created the impression that Zoom is not secure. Every software company regularly finds and fixes vulnerabilities, and we have teams devoted to doing this work full-time. Please use our security settings and stay up-to-date with the latest version of Zoom – this is the best way to have a secure experience.

I am proud to see how our team is internalizing this as an opportunity. I firmly believe it will make us better. On April 1, we instituted a 90-day plan where we focused the company 100% on security and privacy. We are working hard, engaging top experts to help us, and not wasting any time. We are striving for complete transparency, with weekly webinars and blogs updating the public on our progress. We have made our release notes more detailed. Already in the first month we have made great strides toward making our platform the most secure in the world. 

Zoom’s Identity and My Identity

Recently, questions have also been raised about Zoom and China. At first, this seemed to stem from a temporary misconfiguration in our global data center routing that we fixed. But outside of that isolated incident, in the past few weeks, we have seen disheartening rumors and misinformation cropping up. I would like to set the record straight here. 

  • I became an American citizen in July 2007. 
  • I have lived happily in America since 1997.
  • Zoom is an American company, founded and headquartered in California, incorporated in Delaware, and publicly traded on NASDAQ (ZM). 
  • Zoom is also a global company, with 21 offices around the world, including in the UK, Australia, Japan, France, and elsewhere. More than half of our employees are based in the United States.
  • Similar to many multinational technology companies, Zoom has operations and employees in China. And like many multinational technology companies, our offices in China are operated by subsidiaries of the U.S. parent company. Our engineers are employed through these subsidiaries. We don’t hide this. On the contrary, we disclose this type of information in our public filings, as appropriate. Our operations in China are materially similar to our U.S. peers who also operate and have employees there.
  • Among our 17 global co-located data centers, we have 1 (one) co-located data center in China. This data center is in facilities run by a leading Australian company and is geofenced. Its design ensures meeting data of users outside of mainland China stays outside of mainland China. It exists primarily to satisfy our Fortune 500 customers that have operations or customers in China and want to use our platform to connect with them. 

I am immensely proud of the work our company has done to help keep hundreds of thousands of schools and businesses running during this pandemic and to make video communications more secure. When I think of the last nine years, in many ways we’ve had it easy. The strongest steel is forged in fire. Our team, our culture, our platform, and our company will be stronger and more equipped to deliver happiness to our customers because of this experience. 

Our goal has always been to make video communications frictionless. This remains the case, but now we add to it. Our goal is to build the world’s most secure and frictionless video communications platform, and we are well on our way to doing just that. 

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