By Matthew Winkler
Jim Scheinman, founding managing partner of Maven Ventures and an early investor in Zoom Video Communications, is still betting on the videoconferencing company’s future and on the vision of its founder and CEO Eric Yuan. The company has been on a tear — stoked by the need for its essential services during the pandemic — but as competition nips at its heels from Microsoft, Facebook and Google, there is a need to keep innovating its product line. To achieve that goal, Zoom is teaming up with start-ups building the next big app on its open platform using Zoom APIs.
Zoom has grown to 300 million daily users from its launch in 2013, and its market cap has risen from $15.9 billion at the time of its IPO in April 2019 to near-$50 billion. Maven Ventures has reaped a 200 times return on investment during the start-up’s meteoric rise.
To spur the next wave of growth, Scheinman came up with the idea for an app marketplace contest online for start-ups to build new features and functions for Zoom. In a so-called Whale Watch competition held earlier this month with a virtual backdrop of whales swimming, leaders of 10 tech start-ups who were selected as finalists among 600 contestants presented business plans in Shark Tank-like pitches over Zoom to Scheinman and four other judges. They were: Zoom’s Platform and AI head Wei Lei; Carl Eschenbach, a partner of Sequoia Capital; Santi Subotovsky, general partner of Emergence Capital, and Bart Swanson, advisor of Horizons Ventures who are Zoom investors that also serve on the company’s board.
Each start-up team pitched their made-for-Zoom apps, ranging from Pledgeling for pledging donations and iScribeHealth for virtual physician consultations to Bloom for specialized online classes for kids. Votes came in from an online audience poll while the judges went off-screen to decide and then announce the winner: Docket, a start-up in Indianapolis with an app to make meetings more efficient with collaborative agendas, note-taking tools, archives and task steps.
As the contest champion, Docket stands to receive up to $2 million in funding from the four participating venture firms once due diligence is done, said Darin Brown, co-founder and CEO of Docket, which launched in January 2019 with $1.5 million in VC backing and is one of several apps on Zoom. “For us, it was a no-brainer to roll out our app on Zoom because of the number of users and the deep integration of Docket within the video platform,” said Brown. He expects that Docket will reach 10,000 users by the end of May, up from 3,000 at the beginning of 2020.