Communicating in the Time of a Pandemic

Written by Jennifer Clark
Posted April 22, 2020

Some people have seen their lifestyles drastically change since lockdown measures have been implemented around the globe. Before all of this, I’m sure that once or twice in your life you've wished you could spend more time on a hobby, with your family, or finishing that project that you put off years ago. 

For most of us, the people lucky enough to have the luxury of staying safe inside, our daily lives have needed some adjustments. The lives that we knew — getting up and commuting to work five days a week — have come to a stop or undergone some significant changes. I remember before all of this, I enjoyed working from home once a week. It was a nice break from my normal routine of going into the office. But now I miss the days of going into work and socializing with my coworkers and having happy hour drinks after work with my friends. 

The socializing aspect of life tends to be taken for granted until it’s taken away. Having a conversation and seeing my friends and family levels me out. It’s an aspect of life I can’t put on hold, and I’m not the only one. That's why there has been a surge in video-conferencing and video-call platforms. The video communications company Zoom (NASDAQ: ZM) has really come out on top during this pandemic. 

Jobs, families, and friends are having group video calls, trying to maintain some type of normalcy throughout all of this. People are improvising and using Zoom to have happy hours, play games, and basically do the activities you would have if you could see the people you usually see every day. 

Zoom has jumped from 10 million daily users in December to more than 200 million in March. This platform was initially sold to businesses as a way to connect, communicate, and collaborate with coworkers. Now it’s a platform for online education, fitness classes, and staying in touch with friends and family. 

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Video-calling apps are benefiting greatly from the pandemic, which is why tech companies are redirecting their efforts to expanding and owning video-calling and personal social interaction applications. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has identified this trend and wants to reap the benefits that Zoom offers. It has been ramping up its Microsoft Teams to target individual users. Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) announced last month that voice and video-calling in Messenger and WhatsApp have more than doubled in some markets. 

However, Zoom has come out on top because it is free to users and allows video calls of up to 100 participants but with a 40-minute time restriction — better than the 20 people that Teams allows and the four participants per video call that WhatsApp allows. 

Recently, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) acquired a video-conferencing tool called BlueJeans to begin capitalizing on this remote-work market, though this collaboration started last June. BlueJeans reached a point where it couldn’t continue growing on its own and needed a larger partner; that's where Verizon came in.

This acquisition gives Verizon the opportunity to produce advanced video-conferencing scenarios because of its emerging 5G technology. This deal between BlueJeans and Verizon is reportedly worth around $500 million, giving access to some 15,000 business clients. The only downfall with BlueJeans is that it’s aimed towards business users rather than free users. If this aim remains the same, then Zoom will continue to have a decent hold on a massive market because it’s more accessible to free users. And who doesn’t like free?

Video conferencing has opened the door to a new way of communicating. However, it might be more logical to build out a trusted platform for businesses because, after all, this pandemic will be over at some point and those free users will go back to socializing in person rather than through video calls. That means Verizon could benefit in the long term while Zoom fizzles if it fails to develop a trusted and secure platform for business users.

Until next time, 

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today
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