🛠️ The Product Person #18: Zoomin'

How to have a good product idea (using Zoom as an example)

Hey sorry I’ve been quiet for the past 2 weeks. I was knocked off my groove. All plans went out the window. College closed down dorms abruptly. Had to adjust to being back home. Text messages became my main form of social media lol.

But worry not, the groove is back.

Been listening to Poolside.fm to lift my spirits. Highly recommend if you like ‘80s themed, feel-good, summertime music. You’ll be transported to Miami Beach, minus the strip clubs and cocaine (unfortunately).

So, Zoom. You’ve heard of it. Your grandma has heard of it.

The founder Eric Yuan is a great example of what happens when you build for yourself and from your own experiences.

Origin of the idea

In a 2017 interview, Eric says he first had the idea while in a long distance relationship as a college freshman. He’d take 10-hour train rides across China to his girlfriend. He knew there had to be some other way to see her.

Working at Cisco

In 2007, he led engineering for Webex, Cisco’s video collaboration software. Eric often spoke with enterprise customers. They were unhappy with the product. The UX was clunky. The audio & video became slow and choppy with too many people. And it lacked modern features.

Eric wanted to rebuild Webex, but Cisco wouldn’t let him.

So in 2011, Eric left Cisco to start Zoom.

Zoom Boom

Eric launched Zoom in 2012.

About 40 fellow engineers followed him from Cisco. And a couple investors gave him $3 million in VC, including former Webex CEO Subrah Iyar.

By 2017, Zoom hosted over 20 billion annualized meeting minutes. Also, 33% of Fortune 500 companies use Zoom. As well as, 90% of the top 200 US universities.

In 2020, they have 12.92 million monthly active users (MAUs). They’ve already added 2.22 million MAUs so far in 2020, more than they added in all of 2019 (1.99 million).

📚 Lessons

  • Solve for a problem that you know well

  • Find where companies fail to improve their product

  • Quit your Fortune 100 company job (optional)

Here’s a great tweet from the product jesus, Brian Norgard, to sum things up:

Further reading

🖇️ Forbes’ inside story on Eric Yuan is a good read to learn more about him.


Thanks for reading :)

P.S some news:

🎉 I started a Telegram group chat to geek about products. Come say hello!

🐦 I’m tweeting more often on @ProductPersonHQ —Enjoy.