How Zoom’s Live Video Earnings Calls ‘Raise the Bar for Everybody’
Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM) didn’t think twice about hosting its first quarterly earnings call over live video in June 2019, and again this week on September 6. Not only does the live webinar showcase the power of Zoom’s video-first unified communications platform in creating a transparent, interactive, and engaging brand event, it raises the bar for how other public companies approach similar communications.
A traditional earnings call would feature a bunch of execs huddled around a table with paper strewn about and some piece of audio hardware dialing in to a conference call at the center. But most people would never know that because it’s almost always audio-only. Anyone dialing in, including the analysts, cannot see how an exec reacts to a question or the body language of the group. While there may be less risk in something going wrong technology-wise in that approach, there’s also much less transparency.
Zoom did its entire IPO process over video and sought to demonstrate publicly how our video technology can enable engaging, interactive communications while also providing increased transparency and vastly improving an outdated audio-only experience. And it did just that when Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan, CFO Kelly Steckelberg, and Head of Investor Relations Tom McCallum started that video earnings call on June 6, 2019.
The event was, by all means, a success, but we had ICR do an anonymous feedback survey with some of the sell-side analysts that were on the earnings call. Here are a few things they had to say about the experience.
On the opportunity for other companies
- “I thought it was great … I think all of my companies should do this.”
- “There’s a huge opportunity for all companies to do it this way.”
- “It raises the bar for everybody.”
How video transformed the experience
- “The longer I do this the more awful it is to listen to regular earnings calls. I loved that I could see facial expressions of everybody.”
- “Anything that makes the average earnings call more interactive is great.”
- “All things equal, it was cool, it was different.”
On the effects of the live video format
- “I really like that I was live on video. I had to give it thought … what you are wearing, the background, you got to be somewhere presentable. Once it started, I started getting text messages. We all have to be a little more conscious of how we look during these earnings calls.”
- “It really felt like you were with management.”
- “Overall I really liked the format and how you get to see how they are reacting in real time … clearly everybody in the room was rehearsed. Everything looking pretty put together. Everyone had their order of questions.”
On the opportunity for the analysts
- “Every earnings call is going to be an opportunity for us (the sell-side analyst) to build a personal brand.”
- “It’s better branding for us. I get better exposure out of it.”
- “As a sell-side analyst, everybody wins.”
Suggestions for improving the experience
- “Send everybody instructions on how to add a virtual background.”
- “I thought the three of them could have been sitting closer to the camera … they were a little bit too far away.”
- Think through what happens when a senior analyst isn’t available to join via video. Would he rather the senior analyst ask a question (with video off) or the associate (with video on)?
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