Video-calling software provider Zoom on Wednesday announced a way for users to put on live virtual events that people can pay to attend.
The OnZoom option makes Zoom more than just a competitor to the likes of Google and Microsoft. Zoom is building on the exposure it has enjoyed this year with the onset of the coronavirus and encroaching on the territory of companies that sell tickets to live events, including Eventbrite and Live Nation.
Those companies have only recently made online events a focus, after shelter-in-place orders around the world restricted in-person events. But unlike most of those live-ticketing competitors, Zoom won't take a cut of ticket sales — at least not during the OnZoom public testing period, which is expected to last at least through 2020.
Zoom initially sought to sign up corporate clients but found its software getting adopted for a variety of other purposes, including weddings and school classes. At one point earlier this year, Zoom reached more than 300 million daily call participants. Zoom shares have risen more than 600% this year, far outpacing the S&P 500.
Gatherings such as poetry readings and yoga classes have moved to Zoom as the pandemic drags on, and Zoom is giving those businesses a way to charge admission. Zoom's website will provide a directory of events that people can join.
Zoom is not taking a cut for now, but the company will look at whether it should start charging next year, Wei Li, Zoom's head of platform and artificial intelligence, said in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.
For now, Zoom users must have paid subscriptions and be located in the U.S. to create single or repeating events through OnZoom, and people must have Zoom accounts and be located in the U.S. to join the events. The service will become available globally in 2021. Zoom accepts payments with credit cards or PayPal. The number of people who can attend is based on the host's Zoom subscription level. Organizers can hold events for free or ask attendees to donate to specific nonprofits if they wish.
Also Wednesday, as the company kicks off its virtual Zoomtopia user conference, Zoom announced integrations of third-party apps, or "Zapps," into Zoom's software from Atlassian, ServiceNow, Salesforce, Slack and other online tools. They will become available for all Zoom users later this year, said Ross Mayfield, the company's product lead for integrations.
Zoom said its higher-grade data encryption, a feature announced in June, will become available for all users in a preview next week.