Zoom: Cultivating Human Connection in a Digital World

By Jennifer Aaker, Susannah Shattuck
2020 | Case No. M387 | Length 9 pgs.

In the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people turned to the Zoom digital communication platform each day to connect with colleagues, friends, and family. Collaboration has always been key to human survival, and Zoom offered a digitized human experience that let people continue to build their business and, equally importantly, connect with each other with trust, humor, and love despite the sudden closure of businesses, offices, and schools as communities went into pandemic lockdowns.

Founded in 2011, Zoom grew from an idea for sustaining founder Eric Yuan’s long-distance relationship to become the top player in the digital communications arena in 2020, with nearly a 45 percent share of the increasingly competitive video communications market and 350 million daily meeting participants worldwide. The case study explores the founding principles of Zoom, and its reliance on a cornerstone of developing and nurturing trust—both with its customers as well as internally, with its own workforce. That also meant dealing with missteps frankly in the pursuit of frictionless service as demand for Zoom conferences rose dramatically during the 2020 pandemic.

Learning Objective

This case is designed to help students learn how companies evolve out of a single concept that is inherently personal—yet also universal, in the case of Zoom. Students will discuss how trust, humor, and love were essential to the success of Zoom, which unexpectedly became an essential service and had to scale up quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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