If you’ve read Shoshana Zuboff’s Surveillance Capitalism, you likely agree that the most important asset for a data-driven advertising platform is consumer engagement. That engagement throws off data, that data drives prediction models, those models inform algorithms, those algorithms drive advertising engines, and those engines drive revenue, which drives profit. And profit, of course, drives stock price, the highest and holiest metric of our capitalistic economy.
So when an upstart company exhibits exponential growth in consumer engagement – say, oh, 3,000-percent growth in a matter of two months – well, that’s going to get the attention of the world’s leading purveyors of surveillance capitalism.
And in the past week, Facebook and Google have certainly been paying attention to a formerly obscure video conferencing company called Zoom.
As I’ve already pointed out, Zoom has become a verb faster than any company in history, including Google. The COVID-19 pandemic shifted nearly all of us into a new mode of video-based communication – and Zoom just happened to be at the right place, at the right time, with … a better product than anyone else. As of this writing, the company’s user base has grown from 10 million users a day to 300 million users a day – that’s two times bigger than Twitter, and nearly 20 percent of Facebook’s entire daily user base.
That, my friends, is an existential threat if you’re in the business of consumer engagement. Which is exactly why we saw news on the videoconferencing front from both Facebook and Google this week.
Item #1: This past Friday, Facebook announced Messenger Rooms, a video conferencing app that allows up to 50 people to have Zoom like experiences for free.
Item #2: Not to be outdone, Google today announced that its Meet videoconferencing tool, which formerly came with its paid G Suite service, is now free and will support 100 simultaneous users.
Item #3: Zoom’s high flying stock has lost 13%…