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Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

What can we learn from the rise of Zoom during the lockdown 🚀

Can you see my screen yet? — The digital switchover 💻

Stephen Chapendama
Jul 30 · 4 min read

It’s been the summer of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts (now called Meet) and for a brief 2 weeks, House Party. As most countries began locking down we started to see a rise in companies starting the digital switch over. Whilst most organizations have been prepared for lockdown and already had platforms in place for remote working, it was very telling how many organizations didn’t. For those organizations who have been Microsoft heavy, switching from Skype to Teams was a no brainer, it brought better collaboration tools, for others, this involved switching to Slack and picking and mixing different tool kits to bring the right collaborative environment.

But with it also came some important lessons about entrepreneurship and business.

With accusations of corporate espionage and a $1,000,000 bounty for information, House Party fell with what feels like a 1 month period, we saw the rise of House Party, the sabotage of House Party followed by the imitation of House Party by the likes of Facebook (Instagram & Whatsapp). For businesses observing from the outside, it shows how difficult running a business can be and the pitfalls of going viral. As more users flocked to House Party, the bigger social media platforms merely pivoted and adopted the new features seamlessly. As rumours surrounding the ownership of House Party further pushed this company downhill in the app charts, they struggled to also shake off posts from “users” claiming that soon after downloading the app, an attempt to hack them had happened.

For small business owners this is an incredibly frustrating situation, in 2020 Joanne Morales, CEO of Nünude, launched a range of fabric skin tone plasters. She said that same month Tesco ordered the entire Skin Bandages collection from their online shop on Etsy with the package delivered to Tesco HQ in Welwyn Garden City. Not long after, Tesco recieved praise after launching what looked like an identical copy. For founders, it’s best to remember that this problem doesn’t just happen in tech.

House Party addressing the smear campaign
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Data by PrioriData — Source

Just how did they do it? I mean Skype (before acquisition) has been around since 2008! Even giants like Cisco Webex have been offering this functionality. And well Google, well they’ve seem to have had the most confusing story of them all. At the point of writing this article, Google offers three i̶d̶e̶n̶t̶i̶c̶a̶l̶ different video tools. Google Hangouts came out of the failed Google+ social network and has been around since 2013. Within it was Google Hangout Meet which is now marketed as Meet. And for those with Android devices, you will have seen Google Duo (it’s also cross-platform so can be used on iOS). And another tech behemoth, Microsoft has had Skype in its arsenal since 2012 and in their recent battle against Slack, launched Microsoft teams which now hosts video conferencing functionality. But somehow Zoom has surpassed them all in terms of users during this pandemic. The journey hasn’t been easy for Zoom, with scandals surrounding Zoom Bombing, security around Zoom and the scaling up from 10m monthly users to over 150m monthly users. But they’ve done it, and it’s going so well they recently announced the launch of Zoom Hardware as a Service (HaaS).

For entrepreneurs it shows that it doesn’t really matter if there are players in the game, your approach could be the game-changer. Zoom didn’t reinvent the wheel, but instead, they made the wheel more accessible.

The digital switchover has changed how we work. Previously organisations that were against flexible working and found ways to avoid implementing collaboration tools are now seeing the benefits. The way we work has changed, can a company now justify employees having to be work in the office every day for the whole week? We have already seen the likes of Google and Facebook announce that work from home is the future and they will be sticking to it. This not only means that they will now be able to tap into talent in places they weren’t able to reach before. Over the last few years, the worlds borders have been closing up, with countries such as the UK looking to adopt an Australia style talent system. For roles such as those that can be done remotely, this will be helpful. Teams can collaborate via Slack and Teams, but what about for those who aren’t able to work from home? In the next year, we are going to see the growing stages of all the companies that have formed during this lockdown. Companies aimed at this new workforce and ideas aimed at addressing these issues. The future of work has changed, and it’s all started with the digital switchover.


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