Tag: Zoom

Zoom launches South African offices

By Myles Illidge for MyBroadband

Zoom Video Communications is increasing its presence in South Africa by launching offices in the country and focussing on distribution channels in the Sub-Saharan region.

The video conferencing company has also signed a deal with First Distribution, which will help expand its footprint in the region. It plans to adopt additional distributors in the future.

Zoom had previously worked with TechSonic as its channel distributor in South Africa.

Zoom’s sales manager for the region, Parmesh Naidoo, explained that its customers will still be able to purchase its products directly online and through its new distributor.

He confirmed that while pricing may differ through distributors, there would be no pricing adjustment for Zoom’s current client base.

The company will also launch its “bring your own carrier” (BYOC) Zoom Phone product in Africa.

Zoom Phone is a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) system integrated within the Zoom app to let users switch between voice and video calls as they need.

The native version of Zoom Phone is cloud-based and is available in South Africa.

Since it is not available in other African nations, Zoom will launch the BYOC version of the product on the continent in the coming months. This will allow customers to select a telecom provider that best suits their needs.

Zoom is also introducing its global partner programme, Zoom Up, in South Africa. This will allow companies to enrol as sales or performance partners to offer Zoom’s products to their customers.

Additionally, the video conferencing company’s expansion in Africa will add support for its developer platform.

Zoom’s Developer Platform provides several avenues of integration, including Zoom Marketplace, apps, APIs, and its voice and video SDKs.

Zoom Marketplace offers over 1,500 apps, such as client relationship management integrations, which users can add to the conferencing platform.

For livening up meetings, Zoom’s apps offer several integrations such as Kahoot, Warmly, and weather updates.

The company’s solutions engineer for the region, Ryno Venter, said many of the apps are designed to combat meeting fatigue.

Zoom observed a significant jump in sales as more people transitioned to hybrid or work-from-home environments when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, with sales increasing by 170% in the first fiscal quarter of 2020.

The video conferencing company generated $328 million (R5.2 billion) over the period, exceeding analyst expectations.

This surge has subsided as demand for video conferencing normalised as countries started relaxing lockdown restrictions.

 

Pandemic boom for Zoom, Netflix falters

By Noel Randewich and Sinéad Carew for Reuters

The collapse of Netflix’s stock on Wednesday after the company reported its first loss of customers in a decade is the latest drastic sign that Wall Street is abandoning streaming services and other pandemic winners and questioning whether they still merit growth stock valuations.

With Netflix shares tumbling 37% after the entertainment heavyweight’s disastrous quarterly report late on Tuesday, its stock market value has now fallen by two thirds from its peak of over $300 billion late last year. read more

Netflix’s market capitalization now stands at about $100 billion, by far the smallest among the so-called FAANG group of stocks – which also includes Facebook-owner Meta Platforms (FB.O), Amazon (AMZN.O), Apple (AAPL.O) and Google-owner Alphabet (GOOGL.O) – that fueled much of Wall Street’s rally in the years prior to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook-owner Meta Platforms, the next least valuable FAANG company, was worth about $550 billion on Wednesday, with its stock dropping about 7% as investors dumped a range of former stay-at-home winners in the wake of Netflix’s report.

Portfolio managers who focus on high-growth stocks with pricey valuations may reflexively snap up Netflix’ deeply discounted shares following Wednesday’s selloff, putting aside the company’s increasingly difficult challenges with market saturation, password sharing and uncertainty in markets such as Ukraine and Russia, predicted Jim Bianco, president of financial market research firm Bianco Research in Chicago.

“I think it’s going to take some time for them to start to recognize whether or not Disney and Roku (ROKU.O) and Netflix and Hulu and Paramount might not be growth companies any more, that they might have hit their saturation point,” Bianco said.

Netflix’s poor report and stock selloff impacted other streaming-related stocks: Walt Disney (DIS.N) fell 5.8%, Paramount Global (PARA.O)dropped 8.1%, Warner Bros Discovery (WBD.O) fell 5.2% and Roku lost 5.8%.

Walt Disney’s video steaming service pushed Disney’s stock higher immediately after it was unveiled in 2019 and helped the theme park operator weather pandemic-related shutdowns. However, after peaking a year ago, Disney’s stock has steadily lost ground and it is now trading at levels below when Disney+ was unveiled.

Disney’s venture into video streaming lifted its forward price/earnings valuation to levels similar to Netflix’s in 2020, with Disney’s PE briefly reaching as much as 72 at a time when Netflix was valued at 58 times earnings, according to Refinitiv data. But both companies’ PEs have since fallen in tandem, reflecting tougher competition as more streaming services entered the market and the increasing financial burden of producing top tier content to attract and keep customers.

Other companies that benefited during the pandemic have also given up more of their gains in recent months as consumers venture out of their homes and shift their spending habits. Peloton Interactive (PTON.O), Zoom Video Communications (ZM.O) and Pinterest (PINS.N) have all tumbled in recent months and are now down more than 60% over the past 12 months.

While competition is growing across the streaming industry, Truist analyst Matthew Thornton believes Netflix is the most vulnerable because it is the largest and most well-established.

“They’ll feel it more than an emerging challenger,” Thornton said.

While Disney has also been hurt by pulling out of Russia because of the war in Ukraine, Thornton said the impact has already been well telegraphed to investors.

Analysts on average expect Disney to report a 29% year over year jump in revenue to $20.1 billion when it provides its quarterly results on May 11, according to Refinitiv. Analysts expect it to report a March-quarter net profit of $1.8 billion, almost double from a year ago.

For many workers, the informality of the “water cooler” chat was the common connection point for the office environment – but as more companies adopt hybrid work, how do we make meaningful connections when our colleagues are just images on a screen?

“We have to ask what happens when a good chunk of the workforce isn’t anywhere near a water cooler or a break room,” says Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, one of South Africa’s largest workplace design consultancies.

“What happens to laughs, gossip, innovation and creativity in the absence of a workplace?

“Think about all the relationships in your life that stemmed from work. Now think about how many of those relationships formed in person. It underlines the importance of developing relationships at work and just how much we lose when we try to do that without sharing the same physical space.”

Trim says companies now need to take particular care in fostering employee relationships when everyone is scattered to the four winds.

“The assumption is that proximity equals connection. But it really doesn’t. You can be in an office next to someone and really have zero relationship with them or only interact on messaging services anyway.

“When you make a connection a priority, you really have to create space for people to show up in authentic and vulnerable way. And that really starts at the top. For effective managers, that means letting people know when they have had a hard day and talking about their lives outside of work.”

Trim adds that this gives permission to everyone in the offices – and particularly in teams – for managers to show up in a way that’s the basis for true connection at work, whether in an office or on a video call.

“That doesn’t mean you have to give everyone your life story,” Trim notes.

“You can choose what level of vulnerability you want to have with colleagues, but it does prompt you into a space of sharing your history, your background and the big things going on in your life. In short, it is sharing all that you’re bringing to the workspace.”

Trim says that the idea that you can check your life at the office door if your are working in the office of literally at the door or virtually at the door is a false notion.

“Whether you’re in person or you’re online, it’s really about how people show up in a way that is authentic,” Trim concludes.

 

By Thyagaraju Adinarayan for Irish Examiner 

Zoom Video Communications, the poster child of the so-called “pandemic winners” basket, is losing more of its lustre.

The video conferencing company’s shares slumped 18% to the lowest since June 2020. Its latest quarter showed slowing growth as people started socialising in-person – also a trend that roiled the shares of other lockdown winners Peloton and Teladoc Health.

Including the latest losses, Zoom may see $100bn (€89bn) wiped out from its market value since its October 2020 peak, which is a decline of about 62% for the stock. Despite the pullback, the stock is still up a whopping 500% since its 2019 debut.

Both Zoom and Peloton have given back the bulk of their gains since the pandemic’s onset, suffering lockdown withdrawal symptoms.

What’s more, these high-growth companies could be hurt by rising bond yields, which tend to discount the present value of future profits.

Still, some analysts are backing Zoom to bounce back citing opportunity to grow in enterprise communications and falling valuations. Once expensive, Zoom’s recent sell-off has brought their valuation down to 14 times estimated annual sales – cheaper than many of its fast-growing tech peers.

 

By Chris Smith for Trusted Reviews

Zoom users are sick of looking at themselves during online meetings and it’s causing additional stress and fatigue, according to a new study.

New research from the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab say the endless stream of remote work video calls are causing “Zoom fatigue” and it’s somewhat down to seeing too much of ourselves on screen during the meetings.

“Imagine in the physical workplace, for the entirety of an 8-hr workday, an assistant followed you around with a handheld mirror, and for every single task you did and every conversation you had, they made sure you could see your own face in that mirror. This sounds ridiculous, but in essence this is what happens on Zoom calls,” the study asserts (via FT).

It continues: “Zoom users are seeing reflections of themselves at a frequency and duration that hasn’t been seen before in the history of media and likely the history of people.”

The study cites previous research on the affects of seeing oneself mirrored for extended periods of time. Previous studies have suggested that seeing ourselves too often can lead to negative self-evaluation.

The study also points out that the “long stretches of direct eye gaze and faces seen close up” with colleagues on Zoom calls is behaviour that was previously reserved for our closer, more personal relationships. The author also remarks that, unlike the real world, participants in a Zoom call are often the subject of constant eye gaze even when they’re not speaking.

It also looks at the need to constantly modify non-verbal behaviour during the calls, to make it appear that you’re taking notice. That stuff is tiring, man!

The author Jeremy Bailenson argues that Zoom could relieve users with a few changes, including hiding the self-view screen as the default setting. The author also suggests limiting the size of our heads in the frame. Businesses could also be more proactive by making more meetings audio only too, he says.

 

Why Zoom calls drain your energy

By Manyu Jiang for BBC Worklife

Your screen freezes. There’s a weird echo. A dozen heads stare at you. There are the work huddles, the one-on-one meetings and then, once you’re done for the day, the hangouts with friends and family.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we’re on video calls more than ever before – and many are finding it exhausting.

But what, exactly, is tiring us out? BBC Worklife spoke to Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead, who explores sustainable learning and development in the workplace, and Marissa Shuffler, an associate professor at Clemson University, who studies workplace wellbeing and teamwork effectiveness, to hear their views.

Is video chat harder?

Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat, says Petriglieri. Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,” he says.

Delays on phone or conferencing systems of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused
Silence is another challenge, he adds. “Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you became anxious about the technology.” It also makes people uncomfortable. One 2014 study by German academics showed that delays on phone or conferencing systems shaped our views of people negatively: even delays of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused.

An added factor, says Shuffler, is that if we are physically on camera, we are very aware of being watched. “When you’re on a video conference, you know everybody’s looking at you; you are on stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform. Being performative is nerve-wracking and more stressful.” It’s also very hard for people not to look at their own face if they can see it on screen, or not to be conscious of how they behave in front of the camera.

How are the current circumstances contributing?

Yet if video chats come with extra stressors, our Zoom fatigue can’t be attributed solely to that. Our current circumstances – whether lockdown, quarantine, working from home or otherwise – are also feeding in.

Petriglieri believes that fact we feel forced into these calls may be a contributory factor. “The video call is our reminder of the people we have lost temporarily. It is the distress that every time you see someone online, such as your colleagues, that reminds you we should really be in the workplace together,” he says. “What I’m finding is, we’re all exhausted; It doesn’t matter whether they are introverts or extroverts. We are experiencing the same disruption of the familiar context during the pandemic.”

Then there’s the fact that aspects of our lives that used to be separate – work, friends, family – are all now happening in the same space. The self-complexity theory posits that individuals have multiple aspects – context-dependent social roles, relationships, activities and goals – and we find the variety healthy, says Petriglieri. When these aspects are reduced, we become more vulnerable to negative feelings.

“Most of our social roles happen in different places, but now the context has collapsed,” says Petriglieri. “Imagine if you go to a bar, and in the same bar you talk with your professors, meet your parents or date someone, isn’t it weird? That’s what we’re doing now… We are confined in our own space, in the context of a very anxiety-provoking crisis, and our only space for interaction is a computer window.”

Shuffler says a lack of downtime after we’ve fulfilled work and family commitments may be another factor in our tiredness, while some of us may be putting higher expectations on ourselves due to worries over the economy, furloughs and job losses. “There’s also that heightened sense of ‘I need to be performing at my top level in a situation’… Some of us are kind of over-performing to secure our jobs.”

Shouldn’t  Zooming my friends relax me?

Lots of us are doing big group chats for the first time, whether it’s cooking and eating a virtual Easter dinner, attending a university catch-up or holding a birthday party for a friend. If the call is meant to be fun, why might it feel tiring?

Part of it, says Shuffler, is whether you’re joining in because you want to or because you feel you ought to – like a virtual happy hour with colleagues from work. If you see it as an obligation, that means more time that you’re ‘on’ as opposed to getting a break. A proper chat with friends will feel more social and there will be less ‘Zoom fatigue’ from conversations where you’ve had a chance to be yourself.

Big group calls can feel particularly performative, Petriglieri warns. People like watching television because you can allow your mind to wander – but a large video call “is like you’re watching television and television is watching you”. Large group chats can also feel depersonalising, he adds, because your power as an individual is diminished. And despite the branding, it may not feel like leisure time. “It doesn’t matter whether you call it a virtual happy hour, it’s a meeting, because mostly we are used to using these tools for work.”

So how can we alleviate Zoom fatigue?

Both experts suggest limiting video calls to those that are necessary. Turning on the camera should be optional and in general there should be more understanding that cameras do not always have to be on throughout each meeting. Having your screen off to the side, instead of straight ahead, could also help your concentration, particularly in group meetings, says Petriglieri. It makes you feel like you’re in an adjoining room, so may be less tiring.

In some cases it’s worth considering if video chats are really the most efficient option. When it comes to work, Shuffler suggests shared files with clear notes can be a better option that avoids information overload. She also suggests taking time during meetings to catch up before diving into business. “Spend some time to actually check into people’s wellbeing,” she urges. “It’s a way to reconnect us with the world, and to maintain trust and reduce fatigue and concern.”

Building transition periods in between video meetings can also help refresh us – try stretching, having a drink or doing a bit of exercise, our experts say. Boundaries and transitions are important; we need to create buffers which allow us to put one identity aside and then go to another as we move between work and private personas.

And maybe, says Petriglieri, if you want to reach out, go old-school. “Write a letter to someone instead of meeting them on Zoom. Tell them you really care about them.”

 

By Hemani Sheth Mumbai for The Business Line

Hackers are selling over 500 000 Zoom accounts on the dark web and hacker forums for less than a penny each, and in some cases, for free according to a recent report by web platform Bleeping Computer.

Bleeping computer in the report said that they had first been informed of these accounts being posted on said platforms by cybersecurity intelligence firm Cyble who started noticing the posts around 1 April.

The firm had then reached out to the sellers who had put up the account for sale and had bought credentials for 530 000 Zoom accounts at $0.002 for a single account in an attempt to warn the customers of the breach.

Findings
According to the report, the accounts were hacked using credential stuffing attacks. Hackers use previously leaked accounts to login to the Zoom app. The credentials that enable them to successfully log into the app are then compiled and put up for sale on the dark web.

These credentials include email address, passwords, personal meeting URLs, and HostKeys, as per the report. Almost 290 accounts from the hacked accounts were related to universities and colleges, it said.

In a statement to BleepingComputer, Zoom had said that the company is already working on finding these password dumps to reset affected users’ passwords, the report said.

This is not the first instance of hackers zeroing in on the video-conferencing app that has gained massive popularity owing to global shutdowns in light of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a recent report by Motherboard, hackers have been cashing in on Zoom’s ‘zero-day’ vulnerabilities and selling data stolen from the app on the dark web.

‘Zero-day’ vulnerabilities are faults in software that hackers can use to target specific users. The price for zero-day vulnerabilities in Zoom on the dark web ranges from $5,000 to $30,000, the report said.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan had recently held a Livestream conference acknowledging the privacy and security issues within the app ensuring that the company was working on fixing them.

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