By Aaron Tilley 

Zoom Video Communications Inc. plans to capitalize more broadly on its massive surge in popularity, but is still assessing how best to target smaller consumers, Chief Operating Officer Aparna Bawa said Monday.

"We still are watching and waiting to see what the economics look like. We want to make sure that the customer base that we're serving finds it helpful, it's priced at the right point, it's beneficial to all," Ms. Bawa said at the WSJ Tech Live conference on Monday.

Before the pandemic, Zoom was largely focused on servicing large enterprise customers. Almost overnight, when the virus stuck driving people to stay at, the app became a daily tool for businesses of all sizes and individuals to make it through the

The company last week unveiled its OnZoom service to help such people and businesses better charge for events, such as piano lessons taking place on its platform. OnZoom is only available to paying customers for now, not those using the free service, but Zoom is looking for other ways to potentially get a cut of the businesses transacted on its service.

"We're not quite sure how that's going to work," Ms. Bawa said, with decisions likely next year.

During the pandemic, San Jose, Calif.-based Zoom use grew to more than 300 million daily meeting participants from 10 million late last year.

Catering to the millions of people who now use Zoom free to stay in touch with work, family and friends has come with a cost, she said, but it is one the company looks as an investment in growth. "For us, it's a long game," Ms. Bawa says at the WSJ Tech Live Conference. "The more and more we can build our user base and establish trust with folks like you, the more sort of legs we have as a company."

Even without getting the users of its free service to pay the pandemic has supercharged Zoom's earnings as companies embraced the service to connect with employees and clients during the working-from-home era. In August, Zoom raised its full-year outlook for the second time during the pandemic. The company's stock has surged more than 700% this year.

The increased popular attention also highlighted shortcomings. Zoom, early in the pandemic, struggled to deal with the explosion of "Zoombombing" -- where people gain unauthorized access to a meeting and share hate-speech or pornographic images. Zoom responded by adjusting default settings for users, but Zoombombings still happen.

Ms. Bawa said that one mistake the company made at the time wasn't doing more to educate users on how to use the platform. Zoom, she said, found that many teachers were adjusting some settings to make it easier for students to join virtual classrooms, but that also opened the door to outsiders. Since then the company has put more emphasis on educating users about how to keep their sessions secure.

Zoom's mass appeal also has caused rivals to increase their focus on the videoconferencing market. Microsoft Corp. has upgraded video features on its Teams workplace collaboration software suite and Facebook Inc. also has launched a rival product.

"We thrive on competition," Ms. Bawa said. "We're not scared of it. It actually drives us to want to do better."

Write to Aaron Tilley at aaron.tilley@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 19, 2020 16:13 ET (20:13 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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