One of the most common ideas amongst those who don’t believe in Zoom as a business is that their tech is easily replicable… This group of naysayers often suggest that it’s only a matter of time before the product is crushed by Microsoft, Google or Facebook. This is what they were saying in January.
This is what they were saying in March. This is what they were saying in June. And this is literally what I read in a forum 20 minutes ago.
Here’s a snapshot of the traffic to Zoom.us over the last year (via SimilarWeb):
In January 2020, they were generating an impressive 91-95M visits a month… Today, it’s estimated that they are generating more than 2.1B visits every single month. These numbers are so big that they’re hard to even imagine in your mind so let me break it down like this:
There are more visits to Zoom.
Focus is often a competitive advantage. Focus is one thing that many of the most successful people in the world will suggest had a lot to do with their ability to win… Zoom is going after just one of the products found within the GSuite and is forecasting $610M in annual revenue this year. GSuite and Google Cloud combined for $1.7 billion… Zoom as a product within GSuite would represent 35% of all Google Cloud / GSuite revenue.
Zoom has had a head start at this market launching in 2011, while Hangouts launched in 2013, but the fact remains that Google had more firepower to put behind Google Hangout than Zoom. Yet, Google is still not winning the battle, which shows that focus really is the key.
Last week, Zoom announced something that could seal their fate and position in the Hall of Fame of SaaS Excellence. They announced Zapps’ a third party marketplace that will allow companies to build apps on top of Zooms technology — this is a sure fire bet that will present a new wave of functionality within their platform and unlock new startup opportunities.
The list of companies that Zoom has involved in the Zapps launch is impressive:
Unsplash is going to be offering Zoom users the ability to change their background to images from their collection. Voice intelligence tools like Chorus and Gong offer in-call note taking and recording. And fun apps like Cameo offer the ability to have celebrities like Snoop Dog join your call live. All of these features improve the Zoom experience while also arming these companies with an extended benefit beyond their existing product.
One of my favorite quotes has always been :
If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.
This is the essence of what offers app & developer ecosystems to thrive.
It’s a model that has been used by Apple, Shopify, Salesforce, Google and more to create a competitive moat. One of my favorite examples of a company that used an app ecosystem to truly level up their business model as a whole is Shopify. It’s their app ecosystem that has allowed them to build a competitive advantage against other platforms.
And when they launched… it wasn’t pretty.
Today, the Shopify App Store is generating millions of dollars for partners and assisting in the generation of billions in merchant sales. In 2013, the Shopify App Store featured 100 apps, was operated by a team of three (including an intern) and 1-1 phone calls were the method of choice for vetting app submissions to the ecosystem. Today, the App Store has more than 4,600 apps, 80% of all Shopify merchants use apps and the stores typically have 6 apps installed at a given time.
This would fundamentally change the business. Jay Myers, VP of Growth at Bold Commerce (a Shopify partner) described Shopify’s implementation of their app store well:
“To build a Shopify-like e-commerce platform is not hard to do. What’s very hard to do is replicate the partnership ecosystem and the value they drive. It’s their moat,”
The Shopify App store currently generates more than 4.4M organic visitors a year. Each individual app has their own custom URL and is able to capture organic traffic directly or through the App Store’s built-in search capabilities, categorization or highlights. Once on a product, the store owner can install the app with ease or pick a payment plan for a subscription:
It’s a beautiful capitalism dream.
The introduction of Zapps could be the moat they need to finally shut up the naysayers once and for all. Of course… Only time will tell.
And I do think there’s a big difference in the stickiness of app ecosystems in the collaboration industry (think Zoom or Slack) vs a platform offering revenue generation opportunities (Shopify, Salesforce & Hubspot) but that’s an essay for another day.
For now, I’m going to challenge you to think about ways you can leverage partnerships to go further in your business and marketing efforts.
You don’t need to create your app ecosystem. It’s not the best approach for every organization and platform. But partnerships can unlock a competitive edge through new opportunities for revenue and growth. It could be partnering on a webinar. It could be partnering on a new feature. It could be partnering on a podcast. It could be partnering on an affiliate program. Whatever the partnership opportunity may be…
The key is to acknowledge that through partnerships some of the greatest companies have built an edge. It might not happen overnight. It might not happen in a year. But if you’re playing the long game — the ongoing development of partnerships could lead to a competitive edge that offers you the protection for years to come.