In a move towards becoming a mass adoption internet platform, Zoom announced the launch of a $100 million fund that will invest in companies that can build products using Zoom’s developer platform. The “Zoom Apps Fund” will provide developers funds to build products and services for the Zoom Apps marketplace that was launched last year.
“We’re looking for companies with a viable product and early market traction, and a commitment to developing on and investing in the Zoom ecosystem,” said Colin Born, head of Zoom’s Corporate Development, in a blog post.
What is Zoom’s marketplace? The company, which became extremely popular during the COVID19 pandemic, launched a marketplace that sold services on top of the main Zoom application. This was Zoom’s way of indicating to the marketplace that it doesn’t want to be seen as just a video-calling app. The mini-apps, dubbed “Zapps”, on the marketplace include things such as meeting schedulers, notification launchers, services for healthcare providers and so on.
Zoom, in the latest blog post, said that it has “dozens of companies” working on Zoom App integrations. “[A]s we see the first batch of Zoom Apps demos and betas, it’s clear to us how powerful this engagement model will be. It has also become clear that there is a massive opportunity right now for innovation with the potential to reach and impact millions of customers in a brand new way,” it said. Zoom will make an initial investment of $250,000 to $2.5 million in each of the portfolio companies that are currently building Zoom Apps.
Zoom’s CFO Kelly Steckelberg, in an interview to Reuters, indicated that Zoom wants to encourage developers to create functions such as digital white boards for sketching ideas, to telemedicine providers and so on. She added that Zoom will not seek to run the fund as a venture capital entity, thus not take board seats in the companies it will invest in.
Zoom’s move to become an internet platform, much akin to to the Google and Apple’s app marketplaces (albeit at a much smaller scale) comes at a time of great regulatory uncertainty in India. The Information Technology Rules 2021, notified earlier this year, have created a new category of social media intermediaries; additional due diligence is prescribed to “significant” social media intermediaries (with more than 5 million users). Zoom, like other SaaS companies, may find itself being treated as significant social media intermediaries due to its large size.
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