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Zoom meetings will offer 'better experience' than face-to-face: CEO

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Teleconference company Zoom (ZM) turned its name into an everyday word in a matter of months — but constant use of the platform has given rise to a phrase of its own: Zoom fatigue.  

While some users yearn for in-person interactions, Zoom believes it can develop a videoconference experience that customers will favor over face-to-face conversations — and it plans to do so within the next five or 10 years, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan told Yahoo Finance at its All Markets Summit on Monday.

Yuan lamented the absence from the Zoom platform of social rituals like handshakes and hugs, but pointed to the company's work on developing augmented and virtual reality.

"We truly believe video communication like Zoom can give a better experience than face-to-face meetings in the future," Yuan says. "We are not there yet but [we're] working to get us there." 

Zoom, which went public in 2019, saw user growth and revenue explode when the pandemic forced hundreds of millions in the US into their homes. But as the pandemic continued and videoconferences became a mainstay of work and social life, some users grew exhausted.  

Eighty-one percent of US adults say they've talked with others over video at some point since the onset of the pandemic last February, according to a Pew poll released last month. But of those who've used the technology, 40% say they've felt worn out from spending time on the calls, the survey found

In May, Yuan told the Wall Street Journal that he was experiencing Zoom fatigue himself. But on Monday, Yuan said that he no longer feels tired of using the product, noting that he cut down his schedule from up to 19 video meetings in a day to five or six.

Still, Yuan has advocated for hybrid office schedules that include both in-person and remote work, saying that the company is in the process of moving toward that approach. 

"We are human beings and need social interaction," Yuan says. "Unfortunately, Zoom does not have that feature yet. Like, we cannot shake hands with each other; I cannot give a hug."

"We need to get together," he added. "That is why the hybrid work is the wave of the future: Two days in the office and two days at home."

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan attends the opening bell at Nasdaq as his company holds its IPO, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. The videoconferencing company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan attends the opening bell at Nasdaq as his company holds its IPO, Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. The videoconferencing company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Shares of Zoom are down about 19% since its second quarter earnings release, on Aug. 30, when it exceeded analyst expectations on revenue but showed slowing growth. Revenue in the second quarter increased 54% over the same period a year earlier; as opposed to the 191% revenue spike Zoom reported in the prior quarter.

Yuan said he company is "absolutely" considering how to adapt its product for the metaverse, an immersive online experience described in recent months by CEOs in the sector — including Microsoft's (MSFT) Satya Nadella and Facebook's (FB) Mark Zuckerberg — as the next frontier of social technology.

"We always think about how to fully integrate," Yuan said. "Actually, we already started a while back [on] how to support [augmented reality] and [virtual reality], and I think [there are] a lot of new ideas and new innovations."

"Unfortunately, I think it will take several years," he adds.

Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit
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