Class for Zoom = Classroom Built ON Zoom

Interesting article about a new product built ON Zoom https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/23/class-for-zoom-earliest-in…

The former CEO of Blackboard has launched this new company that is built on Zoom and provides a better and more robust way for teachers to engage students in a virtual classroom.

I wasn’t aware that companies can build technology on top of Zoom. Find this very interesting when you think about all the apps built ON other platforms and how those platforms have gained even greater distribution, engagement and revenue as a result.

They are doing this through Zoom’s SDK (which I had to lookup and means Software Development Kit). Zoom currently doesn’t charge for this according to the above article. Though it sounds like while they pass up potential revenue on the SDK they make plenty on the growing usage of all these apps.

Anyone have any insight into how this all works and how it might impact Zoom going forward?

Comments in the article point out that other companies do something like this already (https://www.conexed.com/features/virtual-classrooms/) but I imagine that Zoom’s platform and infrastructure are more stable and perform better than other options. I may be wrong on much of this as I don’t work in tech nor am a programmer.

This feels like a big opportunity for greater growth for Zoom?!

What do you all think?

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Companies give away their SDKs as a way to promote developments around their platform thus leading to better utility and ultimately more subscriptions. Zoom does not try to make money selling an SDK - their money is made on increasing subscriptions so they gladly give away the SDK to companies like ClassEDU to build their new Class for Zoom product.

I suspect we will see more and more products in the marketplace built on the Zoom platform. It’s good for the company building them because they leverage the massive customer base Zoom already has in the world. It’s good for Zoom because their platform becomes more solidified as the defacto standard for videoconferencing with lots of 3rd party products making the Zoom experience even better - simpler, more useful, more secure, more application specific, and so on. This further increases the Zoom moat :slight_smile:

The article mentions that Salesforce does the same thing with their SDK and has lots of tools built on it.

On a related note - today I saw an article that Microsoft Teams rolled out new hardware and new features some of which are similar to what Zoom already does.

For hardware Microsoft is now selling an 85" screen for Teams - it only costs $21,999.

For Teams features they added breakout rooms, an extremely popular feature in Zoom especially for school classes. My daughter seems to use it daily in her virtual Zoom high school classes. Teams also added the ability to automatically receive a recap of your meeting that includes recording, transcript, and shared files, and they added support for up to 1000 participants. They also added new scenes and custom layouts.

Microsoft seems to be playing catch-up. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

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This link on Zoom App Marketplace showcases many apps utilizing Zoom, like ezyVet Telemedicine - pretty self-explanatory. Or Smokeball, a law firm practice app that is integrated with Zoom to log meeting activity and allow for simple billing of that time.

https://marketplace.zoom.us/apps?category=all

John

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My TMF reply:

An earlier thread discussed Zoom’s potential for education both in the near future and after a Covid vaccine reduces or eliminates large scale on-line schooling:

https://discussion.fool.com/zoom-and-schools-34608040.aspx?sort=…

The new company’s product Class for Zoom increases the potential discussed in the earlier thread and shows an awareness of the many potential applications and the needs of teachers, students, and parents to reach those potentials.

Teachers are struggling with on-line classes, especially using effective instructional strategies (such as shifting quickly from large group to small groups or paired discussions, providing time for one-on-one talks, and guided practice). Being able to synch materials from their Classroom Management Systems (CMS) is also a struggle. School systems have small budgets for training and educating teachers in how to use technology.

Parents are also struggling with helping their kids navigate on-line systems, especially in younger grades, but even high schoolers and first year college students are having trouble adjusting to new CMS and submitting work.

Any system that can improve teachers’ ability to teach on-line with Zoom (and make it more intuitive for students and parents) should be popular.

The sample display screen shown in the article looks like something that teachers and students could use easily, with important commands shown as icons in a convenient location.

The ability to post an assignment and have students complete it during class without switching to another system is significant. The sample shows a writing assignment, which students complete in a text box. This allows the teacher to see if students are actually writing, and teachers can have private conversations with any students who are struggling or misinterpreting the assignment. In many current setups, teachers have to wait for students to submit the work and either email students or set up individual appointments for one-on-one Zoom conferences. That means that weak or shy students often don’t get the help/instruction they need until too late. The new system addresses that issue.

The screenshot shows that the teacher can have the private conversation but still see the whole class (which helps with monitoring). This is unlike the current Zoom chat rooms.

The company is headed by former Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen who understands the education market. As a teacher, when Blackboard first came out, I found it effective and easy to use to develop on-line lessons and used it frequently with students and for teacher in-service education. I see strong potential with the new product.

Miklo wrote:

They are doing this through Zoom’s SDK (which I had to lookup and means Software Development Kit). Zoom currently doesn’t charge for this according to the above article. Though it sounds like while they pass up potential revenue on the SDK they make plenty on the growing usage of all these apps.

No company can do everything well; there is always someone who will develop a better product in some facet of what your company does. Letting others build apps that integrate with your product allows your company to focus on what it does best and increases the switching costs. As more Zoom integrated apps are developed, then anyone switching from Zoom would also have to switch apps or develop their own.

Zoom doesn’t appear likely to change its SDK charging policy soon. As the article states:

Instead, the founder [Chasen] thinks that Zoom is focused more on scale than in-depth specialization. In other words, Zoom isn’t going to pull a Twitter, but instead likens the platform’s developer friendliness to that of Salesforce, which has tons of tools built atop of it.

I’d rather own a company that’s compared to Salesforce than to Twitter.

Also, the company is building software that is usable on low-cost computers such as Chromebooks, as well as Windows, Android or iPhones which is important for teachers and students who don’t have high speed internet.

One major downside for the new company is that many school systems switched or upgraded their Classroom Management Systems this year, and with state and local tax revenues taking a hit, budgets for new software/Saas subscriptions may be tight in 2021.

Still, overall this bodes well for Zoom’s future. The new company is taking on the downside, and any upside for the new company creates more business and revenue for Zoom.

All the best,

Raymond

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If they are trying to build an ecosystem (recall that the Apple ecosystem is why Berkshire Hathaway invested in Apple), they should try to emulate a same “look and feel” across their product lines. They should ensure that every piece plays well with every other piece. Apple’s user interface and simplicity of operation is why the Mac took off and why the iPhone and iPad are so popular. Perhaps hiring someone away from Apple who has had that mindset for 20 years is a solution.

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The use of Zoom via an SDK/API was entirely expected. Still, it IS exciting to see it actually happening as expected! This is a clear example of Zoom’s platform opportunity. Here is a post I wrote about other things Zoom does and it being used as a platform is among the biggest reasons I plan to own a share of this company for a very long time. "Beyond Zoom Video: Integrate, Apps, Phone, Chat: https://discussion.fool.com/beyond-zoom-video-integrate-apps-pho…. See “Zoom is a cloud platform, not just an app…”

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