Everyone is Using Zoom These Days – Here’s a Look at its Top Executives
These are the most influential people at video conferencing company Zoom, which has suddenly become a household name amid the coronavirus pandemic. Together with founder and CEO Eric Yuan, they are responsible for leading the company as it navigates its newfound popularity and tackles the platform’s security and privacy challenges that have emerged amid the massive growth of people using its service.
Here’s our exclusive org chart:
Chances are that in the past few months you’ve participated in a Zoom gathering for a work meeting, happy hour or an exercise class. In the space of just a few weeks, the San Jose, CA-based videoconferencing company has gone from being a software tool for businesses to a virtual lifeline for people who have flocked to its service as a way to communicate with family, friends and colleagues as the coronavirus stay-at-home orders confined millions of people to their homes.
Zoom’s huge increase in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by some growing pains, with scrutiny from regulators and users alike over a number of security and privacy concerns.
“Zoombombing” made headlines when hackers and online trolls disrupted meetings they weren’t invited to, often to share explicit images or hate speech. The hits continued with reports that Zoom provided misleading statements about its encryption, sent user data to Facebook and accidentally routed some data through servers in China, among other vulnerabilities. Zoom has since addressed the issues, and announced on Wednesday that it would provide end-to-end encryption to all of its users starting with a beta in July.
As Zoom has been thrust into the spotlight, so has its founder and chief executive, Eric Yuan. In recent months, Zoom’s market capitalization has skyrocketed to more than $67 billion, and Yuan, who became a billionaire after Zoom’s successful IPO in 2019, has seen his personal fortune rise.
Yuan’s journey in creating Zoom started in 1997 when he joined web-conferencing startup WebEx as an engineer. The company was acquired by Cisco in 2007 for $3.2 billion, and Yuan remained with the company for four more years. He left Cisco Webex in 2011 with the goal of creating a simpler and better WebEx after becoming disillusioned with the quality of the service while working at Cisco.
In the nine years since Yuan founded Zoom, the company has been on a rapid growth trajectory expanding to over 2,500 employees with revenue in its most recent quarter soaring nearly 170% to $328.2 million from the same time last year. Zoom’s usage took a big leap to 300 million daily meeting participants in April, a 30-fold increase from December before the shelter-in-place mandates, when it had 10 million daily participants.
The leadership team at Zoom is filled with WebEx veterans, including Oded Gal who joined Zoom in March 2016 as chief product officer. Gal works alongside Yuan leading Zoom’s product strategy and reportedly shares an office with him at Zoom’s headquarters.
Kelly Steckelberg, the company’s chief financial officer, previously worked with Yuan at WebEx and Cisco, and joined Zoom in 2017 from online dating service Zoosk, where she was the CEO. Another former colleague, Janine Pelosi, spent over 10 years in marketing at WebEx and Cisco prior to joining Zoom in 2015 as its first head of marketing and now its chief marketing officer. The most recent WebEx veteran to join is Ryan Azus, who became Zoom’s chief revenue officer in August 2019, a few months after its IPO.
While Zoom already had new hiring in the works before the coronavirus outbreak, the unexpected explosion in growth has both accelerated and expanded its hiring plans, especially in areas that impact the security and privacy of its product.
Last week, cloud veteran Velchamy Sankarlingam, who worked alongside Yuan as an engineer at WebEx, joined Zoom’s leadership team as president of engineering and product. Sankarlingam was most recently an executive at VMware where he spent a decade. His arrival follows Zoom’s announcement in May of plans to expand its tech team with up to 500 new software engineers in the next few years based in Phoenix, AZ and Pittsburgh, PA.
With regulators in the U.S. and Europe circling around its data privacy practices, Zoom hired Jonathan “Josh” Kallmer, formerly the executive vice president for policy at the Information Technology Industry Council, in May as its head of global policy and government relations. Kallmer's appointment comes as Zoom has drawn the attention of lawmakers over its ties to China where it has about 700 engineers, according to its recent SEC filings.
Given that Zoom is under more scrutiny than ever before, Yuan is spending most of his time focusing on security and privacy issues. He’s acknowledged that Zoom was built primarily for businesses rather than the masses, and has apologized for the security and privacy lapses not having anticipated that Zoom would become an essential service during a time of social distancing.
In April, Yuan announced that Zoom was putting product development on hold and launching a 90-day improvement plan to fix the problems.
One of the major measures the company has undertaken is to bolster its security and privacy team by hiring a number of well-known security consultants. It brought in former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos as an advisor to manage the effort. Other high-profile names that have joined Zoom as outside experts include privacy expert Lea Kissner, who formerly headed Google’s privacy technology, and Matthew Green, a noted cryptographer and John Hopkins University professor.
A key milestone in Zoom’s 90-day plan was the acquisition of encryption startup Keybase in early May to help it build a more secure product. Keybase co-founder and CEO Max Krohn now leads Zoom’s security engineering team, reporting to Yuan. The acquisition added Keybase’s roughly two dozen security and encryption engineers to the Zoom team.
The company has also promoted a few members of its executive team to meet its new challenges. Its chief legal officer, Aparna Bawa, who joined Zoom in 2018 after in-house legal stints at Magento Commerce, Nimble Storage and Inphi Corp., was elevated to the newly-created chief operating officer position at the end of May. The company is currently searching for a new general counsel who will report to Bawa.
Brendan Ittelson, who has led Zoom’s global customer support for the past five years, was promoted in April to the C-suite as chief technology officer. In his new role, Ittelson leads technology strategy and innovation, and is charged with creating and executing Zoom’s technical vision.
As protests over racism and police violence continue following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis, more tech companies are following up on their initial statements against racial inequality with further action. On June 1, Zoom tapped Damien Hooper-Campbell as its first chief diversity officer leading the creation of the company’s global diversity and inclusion program, which will focus on both employees and its products. Prior to joining Zoom, Hooper-Campbell was eBay’s first chief diversity officer.
Zoom’s rapid rise has the big tech giants racing to gain market share in the now hotly contested videoconferencing space.
Google said in April that it was making its video-calling service Meet free for all users and added new features to make it a compelling alternative to Zoom. Facebook quickly scrambled to roll out its new Messenger Rooms service in April, which lets up to 50 people video group chat on Facebook Messenger. Executives at Microsoft have been rapidly pushing new features to its Teams product that had been planned for later this year to counter Zoom’s popularity. And in May, Verizon joined the race with its speedy acquisition of BlueJeans, a cloud-based video conferencing service.
As the economy gradually reopens and with growing competition from its larger tech rivals, it remains to be seen if Zoom can maintain its position as the world’s most popular video-conferencing company.
For now, Yuan is working around the clock to rectify the issues that have plagued Zoom after taking personal responsibility for what has happened, and vowing to win back the trust of its users. Looking ahead, he’s said that building a much better and more secure platform will remain a primary focus for the company. And above all, Yuan remains committed to his long-held core principle – making customers happy.
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