Overall, I personally think that the overall performance of Zoom is disappointing. As a software, it is excellent. Especially during the epidemic, its existence has allowed many companies and schools to continue working. It is suitable for all ages and convenient. But the company on which this software is based still has a lot of room for improvement in sustainability.
If one asks what is the hottest video software at the moment, I think the answer for most people will be the same: Zoom. Since the new crown epidemic has raged around the world, major universities have switched to online teaching. This way of relying solely on the Internet allows Zoom to play a vital role. In fact, not only universities, but the vast majority of companies are also using Zoom as their main means of communication.
Zoom is a very easy-to-use software, mainly because it only focuses on one function: video calls. Everyone can enter the room through a network connection or a phone call, and then choose whether to join the conversation and whether to turn on the camera. It supports the most basic sharing needs, such as screen sharing, file sharing, etc. At the same time, it is completely free and occupies less than 200M of space.
All this makes this software sound extremely perfect. However, the consumption that grows rapidly with demand is often overlooked. Studies show that two people spending an hour on Zoom at HD quality will generate around 0.0037kg of CO2, which is the equivalent of driving 0.01 miles (assuming an average car putting out 0.27603kg of CO2 per mile). Upgrade the video quality to 1080p, and that results in a four-fold increase in energy consumption. This consumption will also accelerate as the number of participants increases. Research reveals that a weekly one-hour team meeting on Zoom with 6 participants releases 0.05kg of CO2 - over the year, this is the equivalent to the emissions that would occur if driving 9.36 miles in a petrol car. Among them, turning on the camera is the most energy-consuming. There have been reports claiming that leaving the camera off during a web call can reduce these footprints by 96%.
Because of the epidemic, people have lost many ways to communicate. Video software may indeed be the best solution at the moment. However, this does not mean that we can ignore the fact that while it brings us convenience, this rapid and massive energy consumption is also inevitable.
Zoom was launched by Zoom Video Communications. Eric Yuan founded this company in 2011 and launched its software in 2013. This software has received a lot of praise so far. It currently ranks first in the Business category of the Apple Store and has a high score of 4.6.
In January 2020, Zoom had over 2,500 employees, with 1,396 in the United States and 1,136 in international locations. Zoom has always paid great attention to the atmosphere of the company and the treatment of its employees. In fact, in this regard, their reputation has always been very good. Zoom has received similar marks from the job listing site Comparably, with employees naming it the happiest place to work in 2019 out of the top 100 highest-rated firms and again in 2020. The company is located in San Jose, California, but its employees are all over the world.
However, in recent years, Zoom has always been stuck in privacy and security issues. Protecting user rights and privacy is one of the keys to video software. This is closely related to equality and human rights. In 2020 alone, Zoom has been taken to court and warned many times. They are suspected of leaking user data, illegal use of information, illegal eavesdropping, etc. Although it has been emphasized many times that the company has been working hard to improve, Zoom still has many loopholes in this area.
To be honest, on the whole, I am not very satisfied with the attitude of Zoom on sustainability. First of all, I must admit that Zoom has always paid attention to this aspect: Since a few years ago, they have published many blogs from time to time to emphasize the company's attention to the environment. These articles generally contain words such as environmentally friendly, equality, sustainability, and green. However, after careful observation, I think that there are several aspects that are not satisfactory.
First, they never had a complete plan. I personally think that it is not enough to just say that you care. If it is not reflected in the action, it is just false propaganda. But I can't find any evidence to prove which organizations Zoom supports, donate money, or do any activities that actually support the protection of the environment. Not only that, but they also lack purpose in this regard. I didn't find their vision for the future and the company's statement about five-year or ten-year goals in this field. According to these, I would prefer to maintain a pessimistic understanding of the statements made by Zoom, unless they take actual action.
Secondly, Zoom always praises itself. It is mentioned in the blog that Zoom has made outstanding contributions to reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, and it promotes that its company is a place of fraternity and equality. I can understand that a company will try to make a positive impression on the public, but not mentioning its disadvantages is not a wise act. Obviously, because of the epidemic, the energy consumed by Zoom has increased significantly in recent years, and I have not found a statement from Zoom on this. I admit that Zoom does provide considerable convenience, but I think that since a company has promoted its image of caring about the environment, it should take practical actions to safeguard this statement. The website does not provide any data, but simply praises the company with empty words. I don't think this is convincing enough.