For more than a year, Zoom has been on a mission to move from an application to a platform. To that end, it made three announcements last year: Zoom Apps Developer Tools, the Zoom Apps Marketplace, and a $ 100 million developer fund to invest in some of the most promising startups creating tools on their own. platform. Today, at the closing bell, the company announced that it has completed its first round of investments.
Ross Mayfield, product manager for Zoom apps and integrations, spoke to TechCrunch about the investment round. “We are in the process of creating this ecosystem. It seemed important to us, in particular to focus on the seed stage and a stage of partnering with entrepreneurs to create great things on this platform. And I think what you see in the first batch of over a dozen investments is representative of something that is going to be a significant ongoing business, ”he explained.
He said they don’t announce exact investment amounts, but write checks between $ 250,000 and $ 2.5 million. They team up with other investment partners, rather than leading the rounds, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work with these startups using internal resources for advice and executive support, beyond money.
“Each of these investments has an executive or senior sponsor within the company. So there is another person inside who knows the lay of the land, can help them progress and spend more time with them, ”said Mayfield.
The company also runs multiple Zoom chat channels for startups receiving investment to learn from each other and the Zoom Apps team. “We have a shared discussion channel between the startup and my team. We have a channel called Announcements and a channel called Help, and one that the startups have created called Community, ”he said.
Each week, they use these channels to organize a developer office hour, a business office hour managed by Mayfield, and then there is a community hour where startups can meet and talk to each other about whatever. they want.
Specific categories receiving funding include Collaboration and Productivity, Community and Charity, DE&I and PeopleOps, and Games and Entertainment. In the Collaboration and Productivity category, Warmly is a sales tool that provides advance information about each person attending the meeting, while allowing the meeting organizer to create custom Zoom backgrounds for each event. .
Another is Fathom, which alleviates the need to take notes in a meeting, but it’s more than recording and transcribing. “It gives you this very simple interface where you can just mark moments. And then as a result you have this transcript of the video recording, and you can click those moments marked as highlights, and then share a clip of the meeting highlights with Salesforce, Slack, and other tools, ”a said Mayfield.
Pledge allows individuals or organizations to instantly request and collect donations in a Zoom meeting, and Canvas is a recruiting and interviewing tool that helps businesses build diverse teams with data that helps them define and achieve DCI objectives.
These companies and others represent the first tranche of investments for this fund, and Mayfield said the company intends to continue to seek out startups using the Zoom platform to build their startup or integrate with Zoom.
He says that every business starts out as a feature, then becomes a product, and then aspires to be a product line. The trick is to get there. The objective of the investment program and of the Zoom Apps toolset is to help these companies take the first step.
“The art of being an entrepreneur is working with that risk in the absence of resources and pushing the boundaries of what you know. Zoom is trying to be a role model, mentor and investor on this journey.