When Zoom launched Zoom Apps and the Marketplace as a place to sell them last year, it was a big signal that the company wanted to be more than just a popular video conferencing application. It wanted to be a platform, which developers could use to build applications on top of Zoom.
Today the company announced a $100 million investment fund to encourage the most promising startups using the Zoom toolset to launch a business by giving them funding, while using that as a springboard to encourage other developers to take advantage of the tooling on the platform.
“We’re looking for companies with a viable product and early market traction, and a commitment to developing on and investing in the Zoom ecosystem,” Zoom’s Colin Born wrote in a blog post announcing the new program.
The company’s corporate development team, with heavy involvement from the Zoom executive team, will be in charge of selecting and managing the portfolio companies. The company plans to invest between $250,000 and $2.5 million in each startup in the portfolio.
“A big part of this is helping facilitate those early companies and giving them the access to resources and connections within Zoom, so that they can grow and succeed,” Zoom CTO Brendan Ittelson told me.
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While the company wants to invest successfully, a big part of this is using the fund to encourage developers to take advantage of the platform offerings from Zoom. “We feel we’ll help [these startups] build these valuable and engaging experiences and by having that and by investing, we’re helping bring solutions and further expand the ecosystem and our customers should benefit from that,” he said.
Zoom has a number of developer tools that budding entrepreneurs can use to build applications that take advantage of Zoom functionality. In March the company introduced an SDK (software development kit) designed to help programmers embed Zoom functionality inside other applications.
The company also provides tools for embedding an application inside of Zoom, such as one designed for a specific purpose, like education or healthcare, and it has created a centralized place to learn about all of them at developer.zoom.us.
Zoom is not alone in investing in companies building applications on its platform. Firms like Sequoia, Maven Ventures and Emergence Capital have already started investing in startups building companies on top of Zoom, including Mmhmm, Docket and ClassEdu.
The fund gives startup founders one more option to get some funding to get their idea off the ground. Ittelson says all of the investments will be seed-level investments for starters, and they will be providing developer and business resources to help the young startups build and distribute their products.
While he says the company will be on the lookout for promising startups to bring into the portfolio, interested entrepreneurs can apply directly at zoom.com/fund.
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