The schools were taking advantage of Zoom’s decision, announced last week, to make its services free for kindergarten through high schools in the United States, Italy and Japan.
Zoom operates a “freemium” business model: Groups of up to 100 people can use it for 40 minutes at a time at no charge, but must pay $14.99 per month or more for extra features, like bigger groups and administrative controls.
It’s not clear whether the influx of families, teenagers and tarot card readers will translate to an influx in revenue for Zoom. Mr. Jaluria, the D.A. Davidson analyst, said that over time, the company “will get a benefit from this massive brand building that’s happening,” especially when the college students using it today enter, or hope to enter, the work force in a few years.
Zoom has carefully avoided coming off like a tone-deaf Silicon Valley company taking advantage of a crisis. (But it was busy. Citing the work of onboarding schools to the product, leadership was unavailable to talk to The New York Times.)
The epidemic has broadened Mr. Yuan’s view of what it means to be a video communications provider, he wrote in a blog post last month. “I’m compelled to help anyone who needs it,” he said.
On Saturday night, Claire Tran, 22, hosted her first Zoom party after being holed up in her Washington, D.C., apartment for nearly a week. Twenty-one of her friends popped in throughout the four-hour event.
“Before we started the call I was like, this is cool, maybe we’ll do this once a month,” she said. “After it ended, I was like, I need this every weekend or I’ll go crazy.”