Is Zoom's profit rise set to slow?

Zoom, the videoconferencing company, has produced an extraordinary surge in profits and sales. Can it keep up the momentum? Matthew Partridge reports

Thanks to “blowout earnings” – more than double the expected total – in its second quarter, Zoom’s shares have hit a record high, says Kari Paul in The Guardian. The company is now worth more than $100m. Sales rose by 355% year-on-year to $663.5m in the three months to 1 August, also eclipsing analysts’ estimates. Despite facing “intense criticism” over privacy, the videoconferencing company has benefited from a huge jump in users as countries have locked down. Zoom has become “nearly synonymous” with video hangouts. It is used for happy hours, teaching in schools and events.

Zoom may have surpassed expectations, but its management certainly doesn’t think that this is a one-off, says Nico Grant on Bloomberg. The company predicts that the “explosive growth” will continue, with overall sales of $2.4bn in the fiscal year that ends next January, implying that revenue “would almost quadruple in just one year”. It is also confident that this period of “hyper growth” will last beyond the peak of Covid-19, with any churn from users cancelling their accounts as restrictions ease “manageable”.

A tailwind for software

Zoom’s rise has also been powered by the boom in “software as service”, says James Titcomb in The Sunday Telegraph. This is where companies chose to invest heavily “in online business software’, which allows them to keep operating while workers are not in the office. The fact that such software is operated online means that it can “more quickly introduce the latest developments in machine learning and automation”. In a “landmark moment” for the sector, customer-relationship software maker Salesforce became the world’s first software-as-a-service company to enter America’s Dow Jones Industrial Average.

What’s more, says Dan Gallagher in The Wall Street Journal, while subscription-based software business models are generally popular with investors because of the their “high growth potential” and their “predictability”, Zoom’s “user-friendly service” and “relatively modest” price of $15 a month has also impressed small businesses and consumers, with over a third of revenue now coming from either firms with fewer than ten employees or individuals. Nonetheless, while it’s clear that the service is not a fad, it “remains impossible to know just how many small Zoomers will stay on the service when they no longer have to”.

The firm’s assumption that all new users will stick with the service may prove optimistic, says Richard Waters in the Financial Times. Still, any churn may be balanced by the fact that many of its larger customers are “moving beyond immediate business needs” to make longer-term plans for operating with more remote workers. There are also hopes that it can exploit the fact that many big companies are now considering updating all their communications – including voice systems – to cross-sell other services, helping it become a “full-scale communications company”.

Recommended

The after effects of the gas-price shock
Economy

The after effects of the gas-price shock

In the wake of the recent spike in the natural gas price, we can expect slower growth, an industrial recession – and a newly assertive Russia, says Ma…
17 Oct 2021
The charts that matter: bond yields slip while bitcoin tops $60,000
Economy

The charts that matter: bond yields slip while bitcoin tops $60,000

Cryptocurrency bitcoin soared to over $60,000 this week, while government bond yields fell back. Here’s how that has affected the charts that matter m…
16 Oct 2021
Whistleblower allegations – where now for Facebook?
Tech stocks

Whistleblower allegations – where now for Facebook?

The social-media giant has come in for some fierce criticism following revelations from a former employee. Just how much damage has been done?
16 Oct 2021
Inflation, energy crisis, strikes – have we gone back to the 1970s?
Investment strategy

Inflation, energy crisis, strikes – have we gone back to the 1970s?

Merryn and John talk about rising prices, productivity and the state of the labour market, plus are bond investors really the adults in the room, and …
15 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Why the world’s most important economic data release has unnerved markets
US Economy

Why the world’s most important economic data release has unnerved markets

The US added only 194,000 jobs in September, far shorter than the 500,000 that were expected. John Stepek explains why markets didn't react as they no…
11 Oct 2021
How to invest in SMRs – the future of green energy
Energy

How to invest in SMRs – the future of green energy

The UK’s electricity supply needs to be more robust for days when the wind doesn’t blow. We need nuclear power, says Dominic Frisby. And the future of…
6 Oct 2021
Inflation is still one of the biggest threats to your personal finances
Investment strategy

Inflation is still one of the biggest threats to your personal finances

Central bankers and economists insist inflation will be gone by next year. We're not so sure, says Merryn Somerset Webb. So if you haven’t started to …
1 Oct 2021