July 1, 2020 — The time is right for smaller companies to seize market share amid the coronavirus, said New America representatives in a meeting of Slate’s Future Tense program on Tuesday.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America, said that the success of Zoom during a time when the majority of Americans are at least partially quarantined showed that smaller tech companies still have a fighting chance against larger companies like Google and Facebook.
“You can compete even if you are smaller,” she said. “You really just have to seize that market niche.”
LinkedIn Co-Founder and New America Board Member Reid Hoffman agreed and said that the number of large tech companies is actually increasing rather than consolidating.
“We have called it five plus large tech firms,” he said. “I think that’s five plus large tech firms going to ten, not going to two or three.”
Zoom has become indispensable for telework and telelearning, as well as recreational calling. While the company was little-known in America before the coronavirus pandemic, it has managed to surpass pre-existing videoconferencing apps and websites.
In efforts to compete with Zoom, Google has made its business-minded videoconference app Meet free for all users. Facebook has also expanded functionality for video calling within its apps, including Messenger Rooms, which allow calls with up to 50 people.
Hoffman was positive about the effect of newfound competition on the videoconferencing market.
“When you have a number of [companies] and they’re all competing really ferociously,” he said, “that competition created lots of space, not just in a competition between the large firms themselves, but for startups.”
Critics have expressed concern over Zoom’s ties to China as well as its reluctance to provide end-to-end encryption for all users until June, after receiving significant pressure from civil rights advocates.
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