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Zoom earnings, remote work and a terrible but possibly bright moment for startups

It’s a bit gauche to talk about positive economic impacts of what may become a global pandemic, but the novel coronavirus hasn’t been bad news for every company. Video conference provider Zoom appears to be one beneficiary; after going public in 2019, its share price rose from around $68 at the start of the year…

It’s a bit gauche to talk about positive economic impacts of what may become a global pandemic, but the novel coronavirus hasn’t been bad news for every company.

Video conference provider Zoom appears to be one beneficiary; after going public in 2019, its share price rose from around $68 at the start of the year to $115 today. Why? As governments lock down cities and close borders — and companies and conferences shift to virtual for the time being — services like Zoom are well-positioned to see increased demand. (Indeed, Zoom announced today that it is rolling out select products to new territories after improving its free service in impacted regions.)

That Zoom’s shares have appreciated is perhaps not surprising.

The company quickly moved from being a relatively unknown video chat upstart to becoming a celebrated profitable IPO that today is synonymous with its product category in the startup world. Seeing rising investor interest in Zoom merely matches its growing brand; naturally, folks looking for a trade — however that makes your moral center feel — might pile their chips on Zoom.

The rise in Zoom’s value begs two questions: Are future-of-work and remote work-focused startups seeing a global increase in demand? And if so, what impact is that having on their growth? (Are you a startup building remote-work tools? Email me if the outbreak has impacted your growth rates.)

Luckily for you and me, Zoom reports earnings tomorrow. The quarter that Zoom will report, the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2020, stretched from November 1, 2019 through the end of January 2020. So it does include a bit of time in which the novel coronavirus was active, impacting work and perhaps corporate behavior. Obviously, its next quarter will be more interesting, but Zoom should provide guidance for that period. So we’ll get a look at what’s ahead, even if it is provisional.

What about startups?

If Zoom has a bullish outlook, it could lift other, similar companies.

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