Zoom quietly retracted a claim that it had 300 million daily active users, and it spotlights a huge area of confusion about its business (ZM)


eric yuan zoom ceo

  • Zoom quietly revised a blog entry to clarify that it has 300 million daily meeting participants — not 300 million daily active users (DAU), as it said at the time the blog was first published. 
  • However, by the time the edit was noticed, many media outlets — including Business Insider — reported the 300 million daily active user figure. Zoom stock spiked soon after the blog entry was first published.
  • The distinction, according to a Zoom spokesperson: A single person attending five Zoom meetings in a day counts as five meeting participants, while DAU measures unique, individual users.
  • The episode calls attention to a time, earlier in April, when Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said that the company had 200 million daily meeting participants — a figure that was inaccurately reported in outlets including Business Insider as the company claiming 200 million DAU. 
  • Zoom declined to comment on why it didn’t issue corrections on previous media coverage of its user figures.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On April 22nd, Zoom published a blog entry claiming that daily usage of its videoconferencing app “surpasses 300M Daily Users” and “that more than 300 million people around the world are using Zoom during this challenging time.”

That figure was reported in a number of press outlets, including Bloomberg and Business Insider, and Zoom’s stock surged soon after the blog post went out.

However, at some point since it was first published, the blog was edited — as first noticed by The Verge — to say that the company had “300 million daily meeting participants.” That’s a related, but different, measure to the more standard daily active user (DAU) metric. You can read an cached copy of the original post here.

A Zoom spokesperson explained to Business Insider that the “daily meeting participant” measure allows for a single user to attend multiple meetings a day. Taking five Zoom calls per day would count a user as five meeting participants. A DAU is calculated as an individual user logging into the app. 

Notably, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan used language reflecting the “meeting participants” language in a webcast earlier on the same day the blog post went up.

The distinction is important because it gives more clarity on how much Zoom’s user base has actually grown as its profile is raised amid the remote work boom sparked by the pandemic  — and calls attention to similar kinds of confusion in previous media coverage of Zoom and its user numbers.

On April 1st, chief executive Yuan published a blog post noting that amid the pandemic, Zoom saw a massive spike in usage up to “more than 200 million daily meeting participants, both free and paid.” Several technology news outlets including Reuters, CNBC, and Business Insider inaccurately reported the figure as Zoom claiming to have 200 million daily active users, rather than meeting participants.

Asked why Zoom never corrected the record, the company had no ready explanation.

A tougher comparison

Zoom’s skyrocketing user numbers have only served to spotlight the company’s rapid ascent amid the coronavirus pandemic. The company went from a niche enterprise videoconferencing tool, to a vital tool for personal and professional socialization at a time when people are staying at home to stem the spread of COVID-19.

However, a focus on meeting participants, rather than DAUs, makes it harder to gauge how the company is doing against rivals like Microsoft and Slack, both of whom have similarly benefitted from the remote work surge. 

On Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Wall Street analysts that its Microsoft Teams chat app has 75 million daily active users, and that the app had seen 200 million meeting participants in a single day earlier this month. While Microsoft’s app isn’t seeing quite as many daily meeting participants as Zoom at this point, it’s impossible to know if Teams has more or fewer individual users than its rival. 

Zoom has faced a myriad of privacy and security issues as its usage grew, including the phenomenon of “Zoombombing,” where hackers or trolls join calls uninvited and share indecent material. This has prompted Zoom to make fixes to its security settings like making virtual waiting rooms and passwords on by default for free users. On April 1 it enacted a 90-day feature freeze to focus on improving the privacy and security of its tool. 

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