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Planet Money: A Technology Tale, David Beats Goliath

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

If video conferencing is the gold rush of the COVID pandemic, then Zoom is David to Google and Cisco’s Goliath. Google has 120,000 employees. Microsoft has over 150,000 workers. Zoom has just a few thousand, yet its mobile app has been downloaded 485 million times, more than any of its competitors. Zoom should have never won this fight, so how did it do it?

What Zoom did right was something really simple. It focused on delivering happiness. Eric Yuan used to work at Cisco WebEx, one of Zoom’s main competitors. While there, he says he did not see a single happy customer. So when he left and founded his own company, Zoom, he made happiness a mission. And now the company’s filters, from pig noses to fake moustaches sometimes become news headlines themselves.

A year after becoming an integral part of daily life under COVID, Zoom is still competing with tech giants. It’s had problems with security, not to mention the fatigue users experience after back-to-back meetings. But the upside is apparent and likely(?) here to stay. For now, it’s made people’s lives during the pandemic a bit easier and shall we say, happier.

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