On Thursday, on the heels of Zoom’s biggest day ever for downloads the day before, CEO Eric Yuan was taking the time to remotely sign up schools to free accounts of his videoconferencing software. First was a prestigious school in Silicon Valley, then two schools in the Austin, Texas area.
“They told me they’d connect with my team, and I said, ‘no, I’ll do that for you,’” said Yuan, reached by Zoom at the San Jose, California-area home that is now his office for the foreseeable future. “I did it manually myself.”
As the Covid-19 virus sweeps across the planet, leading to quarantined cities and shut-down schools, Zoom has emerged as one of the leading tools to keep businesses up and running and students learning. On Wednesday, the most recent day for which data is available, 343,000 people globally downloaded the Zoom app, 60,000 in the U.S. alone, according to mobile intelligence firm Apptopia — compared to 90,000 people worldwide and 27,000 in the U.S. just two months ago. (Zoom doesn’t share such numbers and wouldn’t comment on a third party report.) And overnight, having already removed the time limit from video chats using Zoom’s free service for affected regions in China and elsewhere, Yuan took another measure to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus: he decided to remove the limit for any K-12 schools affected in Japan, Italy and the United States.