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This Silicon Valley CEO can't stand the word 'unicorn'

Okta Conference hosts Facebook VP of Platform Partnerships Sean Ryan, Slack VP of Product April Underwood, Okta CEO Todd McKinnon, Box CEO Aaron Levie Zoom, and CEO Eric Yuan
Harriet Taylor | CNBC
Okta Conference hosts Facebook VP of Platform Partnerships Sean Ryan, Slack VP of Product April Underwood, Okta CEO Todd McKinnon, Box CEO Aaron Levie Zoom, and CEO Eric Yuan

While some Silicon Valley CEOs may still covet the "unicorn" label, for others, it's become a dirty word.

"I even told our employees don't use that word at all — it doesn't matter," Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom told CNBC.

Still, Zoom — whose video conferencing software competes with products from public enterprise giants like Microsoft and Cisco — officially joined that coveted club on this week. On Tuesday, the company announced it had raised $100 million in venture capital funding in a Series D round round led by Sequoia Capital at a post-money valuation of $1 billion.

Yuan told staff to stay focused on customers and not get distracted by the company's new label.

"Even if you're a unicorn for many years, if customers don't like your product, very soon you become nothing," he said.

Right now, customers do seem to like Zoom's product — the company grew revenue 300 percent between 2015 and 2016, is cash-flow positive and still has $30 million the the bank from its Series C funding round, he said. It counts IBM and Walls Fargo among its customers.

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Karl-Josef Hildenbrand | AFP | Getty Images

It's an enviable position to be in as 2016 was arguably not a great year in unicorn land.

In 2016, seven unicorns had their valuations lowered in so-called down-rounds or exits, according to CB Insights data. They included furniture retailer Home24, whose valuation fell below $1 billion and slipped entirely off CB Insights unicorn list, as well as on-demand food delivery service Hello Fresh, troubled human resources site Zenefits and fitness tracker maker Jawbone.