Zoom launch new $100 million venture fund
Zoom has announced the new Zoom Apps Fund, a $100 million venture fund created to stimulate growth of Zoom’s ecosystem of Zoom Apps, integrations, developer platform, and hardware.
Portfolio companies will receive initial investments between $250,000 and $2.5 million to build solutions that will become core to how Zoom customers meet, communicate, and collaborate, the company in a statement.
Announced at Zoomtopia 2020, Zoom Apps are leading applications that will bring productivity and engaging experiences directly into the Zoom platform.
Dozens of Zoom Apps are currently in development and are an important component in building the future of video communications, says the company. The Zoom Apps Fund will invest in developer partners with viable products and early market traction that will provide valuable and engaging experiences to our customers.
“What I’ve learned over the past year is that we need to keep meetings productive and fun. My hope is that the Zoom Apps Fund will help our customers meet happier and collaborate even more seamlessly, and at the same time help entrepreneurs build new businesses as our platform evolves.”
The rise of Zoom
In 2020 Zoom became a household name with the pandemic causing a shift to remote working and remote schooling. Revolutionising the workplace, it allowed people to stay in touch and have virtual meetings. Not only was it used for work, but people also used it to stay in touch with family and friends, with a lot of online quizzes taking place.
Even though we now have COVID-19 vaccines and the rollout is at global scale, the work-life balance might not be the same as it used to be in the pre-COVID-19 world. In the post-pandemic world, it looks like businesses could favor cost-effective hybrid and virtual workspaces over traditional face-to-face and physical work places.
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”