Zoom Video Communications Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Kelly Steckelberg has had her hands full since she accepted the position in the fall of 2017. No one could have predicted the small communication company would see a growth of more than 355 percent in two quarters throughout the pandemic.
Steckelberg had worked with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan at WebEx, another video conferencing company in the past. When Yuan and others felt the system was difficult to use, they left and started their own company with user-friendly features and reliability.
Steckelberg left as well and joined Zoosk, a dating app as finance chief and eventually CEO but was excited to make the change when Yuan offered her the position of his first CFO.
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The 52-year-old businesswoman has built a career in the communications industry with experience in financial management and turning around companies headed in the wrong direction.
Zoom was already on the path of growth and considering going public. According to Global Newswire, the company had experienced major milestones in 2017, with 150 percent revenue growth and customer base increase of 100 percent. They were expanding, improving product enhancements and adding features to the platform.
Then the pandemic hit.
COVID And The Changing Workplace
As people scrambled to stay connected to loved ones, companies began conducting business remotely and educators worked overtime to reach their students, Zoom became a household name.
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What was once built for business, became something much greater.
“People were thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I still need my children to take their tutoring lesson’ or ‘I still want to take my yoga class,’” Steckelberg told VPM. “This is what we started to see happening sort of gradually and then, all of a sudden, it really exploded for us.”
By April, Zoom was welcoming 300 million participants a day, 30 percent more than they had four months prior.
It became common to conduct business and deliver news and information virtually. Court hearings, weddings and funerals were all done on Zoom’s virtual platform.
Though larger competition existed through Google and Microsoft, Zoom fans say their platform is easier to use and for the millions unaccustomed to doing anything virtually, user-friendly features became the most important.
However, not everything was smooth sailing.
Hackers took to Zoom, crashing meetings due to a lack of security and researchers uncovered security and privacy flaws allowing video camera and microphone access where it shouldn’t have been.
The company buckled down and spent several months correcting the errors, working with state and federal regulators to ensure customer privacy and safety.
“We learned a lot through it,” Steckelberg told VPM. “We have come out on the other side a better company with a stronger and more secure platform.”
She subscribes to two principles in her work as CFO. Employees should consider the company’s finances as if it were their own and everyone should understand how they are contributing to the overall company success.
When employers are invested, they care more about their position, feel valued and part of a team and will protect the company with their own passion and desire to see it succeed.
Steckelberg says her experience at Zoosk helped broaden her understanding of how marketing, engineering and product development work together for success. If the company hires in one area, how does that effect the other area, and other concepts.
Still, few businesses have seen a growth like the one Zoom experienced in such a short time but Steckelberg believes the right mix of investments and initiating an aggressive hiring plan was key to their continued success.
Growth and Beyond
In the last three years, Zoom grew from 700 employees to 4,000 and they aren’t finished.
Will Zoom’s fast-paced success wane as vaccinations roll out?
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After Pfizer announced their completion of a successful vaccine, Zoom’s stock dropped 17 percent but so far, Steckelberg sees a bright future in the direction they are headed. The company has recently launched Zoom Phone in which calls can be converted to a video call.
They are also catering to the corporate world for post-pandemic events in the belief that after corporations see how useful the tool was, they’ll continue to use this type of communication to make on-site events, bigger and better.
Many also believe the future of the workplace has changed forever; with more people working from home or participating in a hybrid schedule, working from home some days and in the office others. With products like Zoom continually improving and changing with the times, the company can withstand the dip in usage initially as it settles into a “new normal”.
They’ve also recently partnered with DocuSign to allow for contract signings during a meeting among other features.
“We’re always listening to our customers and learning from them what is the most beneficial to them,” Steckelberg told CFO Dive. “As long as we keep focused on that, competition makes us all better. It’s good for the end user.”
Due to her role as CFO during the time of crisis and the overwhelming success of Zoom, Steckelberg was named CFO Dive’s CFO of the Year in 2020.
According to WallMine, her net worth is approximately $30 million with a salary of more than $480,000. She owns tens of thousands of Zoom shares and regularly trades those for profit. Over the past two years, Steckelberg has sold stock worth more than $29 Million.
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Sources: Global Newswire, VPM, CFO Dive, WallMine
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