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History of Zoom

Illustration: Mazie Neill · The Sentry

How a romance sparked a multi-billion dollar company. 

One of the most used applications right now is Zoom. It has been used to take the place of the classroom and transform the traditional classroom into a virtual one. With the upending of traditional teaching, it has become a university of its own, hosting classes and turning thousands of classrooms into pandemic safe areas. Even with the sudden rise of Zoom, many people are unaware of the history behind this tool, the reason it was created, and the problems that are arising from its time in the spotlight. 

The idea for Zoom spawned in a rather romantic way. In the early 1990s, Eric Yuan would travel ten hours by train to visit his girlfriend. However, this was often not possible, so he dreamed of a way to visit her without the travel. After immigrating to the United States, he began working for Webex, a video conferencing company based in California. Despite being promoted to Vice President, Yuan was not happy with the company as many customers were not satisfied with the software. So, in 2011, Yuan left Webex to start his own company. 

Zoom launched in 2013 under the direction of Yuan and 40 engineers. At first, it could only host 15 people, and by 2015 could host one thousand business customers. By that same year, it had ten million users and one billion meeting minutes since it began. By 2017, Zoom was defined as a “unicorn,” or a private business that was worth over one billion dollars. In 2019, the business went public and was valued at sixteen billion dollars by the end of the day of its initial public offering. Despite already being aintegral aspect of daily business operations for many companies, the implement of stay-at-home orders around the world made Zoom explode in popularity. In March 2020, two hundred million people used Zoom every day. This led to an increase in stock value, and so called “Zoombombing.” 

Despite its success, Zoom has its less than ideal aspects. Recently, hackers have been able to access Zoom video calls and disrupt the meetingsZoombombing is where a hacker will get access to a meeting and display offensive and explicit material. Due to these security issues, some companies have decided to abandon Zoom in favor of smaller, more secure companies. However, Zoom has released guidelines on how to prevent Zoombombing and video call hacking. Other problems have arisen, including Zoom sending Facebook activity details from iOS devices. Zoom has since released a software patch to fix this issue but is still under fire for data-mining. In recent news, it has been sued for malpractice with user data and its privacy policies called into question by members of Congress. 

Despite the issues that Zoom has, it has become one of the most used applicationsWith the outbreak of COVID-19, it became the go to for students and business meetings for millions of people. With new software updates and patches, Zoom is working to fix its issues and maintain trust with users. And Yuan? He married at 22 and is worth around five and a half billion dollars. 

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