Monday, August 24th, 2020, is a date that will remain etched eternally in the memory of Indian-American Velchamy Sankarlingam. In fact, his work involves striving to ensure that what happened on that day doesn’t repeat. Zoom Video Communications, the popular video conferencing service, where he has been President, Product, and Engineering, had suffered a major global outage.
This, at a time when the service was being used by over a 300million daily meeting attendees, amid a pandemic that had forced people across geographies into Lockdowns. In an exclusive conversation with WION, he threw light on his experience of helping improve Zoom’s services, while also improving its privacy and security, amid widespread concerns.
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Having joined Zoom in June 2020, on the insistence of his longtime friend and ex-colleague and Zoom’s Founder, CEO, Eric Yuan, Velchamy had to hit the ground running. The challenge at hand was unenviable – help scale up a product that was witnessing a 30-fold growth, in terms of the number of daily meeting attendees and attending to the growing concerns of privacy and security, expressed by individual users and Governments.
“Even prior to my joining Zoom and after my joining, there are nights when we built capacity to handle the next day’s needs. However, a lot of credit goes to Eric(CEO), as the product is built really well. Zoom can run on our own data center and on the public cloud, this ensures flexibility to expand” Velchamy recalls about the beginning of his tenure at Zoom.
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He admits that it was a lot of pressure on the team to scale up rapidly, however, he also believes that it is their company culture to do what’s right and keep customers happy. “When the pandemic hit, Eric could have prioritised his premium customers and shut down the free service. Instead, he went on to expand the free service and offer it free-of-cost for schools” he explains.
Hailing from Virudhunagar, in the Southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu, Velchamy had moved to the US after completing his engineering from Anna University, in the Southern Indian metropolis of Chennai. With a specialised qualification in Computer science and business, Velchamy worked at leading firms in the Software-as-a-Service industry(including IBM, Webex, VMware).
According to him, WebEx acquiring Presenter.com (the startup he was working for) was a major turning point in his career. It provided him the opportunity to help WebEx grow, while also being mentored by renowned tech industry leaders. It was at WebEx that Velchamy had met and worked with Eric Yuan (Zoom’s Founder, CEO).