• Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said that he expects the coronavirus outbreak to show companies that remote working is the future, and it will “dramatically change the landscape.” 
  • Yuan said that even before coronavirus started driving more remote work, it was an increasing trend, especially in Silicon Valley, and other companies are now just starting to realize the benefits it offers.
  • Zoom stock has been up dramatically in recent weeks, as Wall Street bets that coronavirus will drive more usage of the videoconferencing tool and services like it. But Zoom is striking a more cautious tone about the potential impact on its business.
  • “We have definitely seen an uptick in usage, but a lot of that is on the free side, so it’s very early to tell whether or not that’s going to convert long term into paying customers,” CFO Kelly Steckelberg said.
  • Zoom is now also asking all employees based at its headquarters in San Jose, CA to work from home. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said that he expects the coronavirus outbreak to change the landscape for videoconferencing tools, as more companies start to have employees work remotely in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

“Video is the future of communication…given the coronavirus, I think overnight, almost everybody really understands they needed a tool like this,” Yuan said on a call with analysts after releasing fourth quarter earnings results. “This will dramatically change the landscape.” 

As the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, spreads, more and more companies are asking employees to work from home. Schools in affected areas like Hong Kong and Vietnam have been closed to try and prevent the spread of the virus. Even in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Zoom is based, some companies like Twitter have expanded their work-from-home policies.

Under those circumstances, companies are increasingly relying on tools like Zoom to help employees stay connected.

However, Yuan said that even before coronavirus started driving more remote work, it was a trend that was already gaining popularity, especially in Silicon Valley. Companies like Zapier and GitLab have all-remote workforces, something many see as one way work will change in the future.

Coronavirus shown that that future many come sooner than some thought. It has forced larger companies to see that they needed to make it possible for employees to work remotely in order to keep the business running when crises like coronavirus hit, Yuan added. 

Yuan said that if he were to start Zoom over from scratch today, he wouldn’t have a single physical office and would make it an  all-remote company.

Increased usage due to coronavirus

Zoom said it has seen an big increase in users for the free version of its product due to coronavirus. However, the earnings results reported Wednesday didn’t show much of that increased usage because much of the increase has been for the free version of its product, CFO Kelly Steckelberg said on the call. 

“We have definitely seen an uptick in usage, but a lot of that is on the free side, so it’s very early to tell whether or not that’s going to convert long term into paying customers,” Steckelberg said.

When asked if Zoom has a strategy to convert those new free users to paid users in the future, Yuan said at the moment he is just focused on providing the best product to customers and making sure people impacted by coronavirus are able to benefit. 

“I would say, empathy, humanity and support for each other is more important, not revenue,” Yuan said, adding that if Zoom focuses on giving its customers the best product it can, money and profits will eventually follow.

Zoom recently lifted the 40-minute time limit per video meeting for its free product in China in an effort to help those affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Yuan also said that Zoom is scaling its servers to be able to handle the increased usage. 

Yuan, who grew up in China’s Shandong province, said in a blog post last week that he wanted to do something to help those affected as the virus continues to disrupt daily affairs, business operations, and school classes. 

Zoom itself has part of its research and development team based in China, but Yuan said they were not impacted by the coronavirus in China. Employees already know how to work remotely so they were able to continue working without disruption. 

Given a number of cases in Zoom’s home state of California, Zoom is now asking all employees based at its headquarters in San Jose, CA to work from home as well. 

“Given the recent emergence and growing number of coronavirus cases in the US, we have directed our HQ employees to work from home, unless there is a business-critical need for them to be in the office,” Yuan said on the call. 

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at pzaveri@businessinsider.com or Signal at 925-364-4258. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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