Shallow Waves

Stuff that matters

Time Magazine on Thursday named Zoom CEO Eric Yuan its 2020 “businessperson of the year.”


Hundreds of millions of people around the world have become reliant on Zoom and rival video-conferencing platforms for both personal and professional purposes since the coronavirus pandemic forced people out of offices and social settings.

“We never thought about consumers or K-12 schools when we started planning the year 2020,” Yuan told TIME’s Andrew Chow over a Zoom call.

Only after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted a photo of a March 31 Cabinet meeting being held over the video-conferencing platform did Yuan realize the extent to which his company might play a significant role in the way the world operated during the pandemic.

Zoom announced that it would go public on March 22. Its userbase skyrocketed from 10 million daily participants in December to more than 300 million in April.

Yuan’s wealth has also surged by tens of billions of dollars since before the pandemic, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

“Yuan soon found himself serving as the world’s relationship liaison, social chair, principal, convention center host, chief security officer and pallbearer,” Chow wrote. “Zoom became a verb and a prefix, a defining syllable of a socially distant era.”

The company’s rapid growth also presented significant challenges, particularly during the spring of this year, as it struggled to keep up with its expanding user base and the privacy and security concerns like “Zoombombing” that followed.

“It was a shocking thing. I felt like we were working so hard — so why was there so much bad press?” Yuan told Chow.

Zoom has made a number of changes, such as end-to-end encryption, to the platform since the spring to combat such concerns

Yuan, 50, was born in China, where he studied computer science at Shandong University until he received an H-1 visa in 1997 and moved to the U.S., according to Time.

“The world is fair,” he told the outlet. “Keep moving forward, and focus on the things you can control.”