Zoom raises $100m on $1b valuation, plans to invest in AR and VR

Cloud video conferencing company Zoom has achieved unicorn status after raising $100 million in a Series D round that valued it at $1 billion.

Zoom is the newest member of the unicorn club, having secured $100 million on a billion-dollar valuation. The Series D round was led by Sequoia Capital, with contribution from existing investors Emergence Capital, AME Cloud Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures.

The latest round brings the total amount raised by the cloud video conferencing service to $145.5 million, with the company also claiming to have become cashflow positive from Q3 of 2016.

The company's founder and CEO Eric Yuan said Zoom is looking to expand globally and build a developer platform as well as new products and features that incorporate virtual and augmented reality technology. The company also plans to grow its sales and marketing teams and expects to increase its overall employee headcount from 400 to around 600 by the end of 2017.

Yuan, an ex-Cisco software engineer, founded Zoom in 2011 with the goal of creating the next generation of WebEx, something he wasn't permitted to carry out at Cisco.

In the ensuing years, his company has managed to attract 450,000 businesses and 5,800 education institutions as customers.

Zoom claims to have surpassed 15 billion annual meeting minutes, with more than 200 percent YoY growth in meeting minutes from 2015 to 2016.

The company wasn't in need of a capital injection, according to Yuan, but took on the opportunity after being approached by Sequoia. VMware veteran and Sequoia partner Carl Eschenbach will also be joining Zoom's board.

In addition to the capital raise, Zoom has announced the launch of Zoom 4.0, which has added functionality for enterprises including voice command to control Zoom Rooms and Zoom iOS applications and participant attention indication. It also provides the ability to broadcast video webinars to Facebook Live or YouTube and for multiple participants to share their desktop screens simultaneously.

Video conferencing is a crowded space, with Zoom going up against many companies including Citrix, Google, and Microsoft.

Taking a slightly different approach, Los Angeles-based software company Solaborate not long ago unveiled a solution that transforms a TV into a communication device for work and home. The company's HELLO device is equipped with a Wi-Fi connection, four microphones, a 4K video sensor, a quad core processor, and voice command controls.

"It cuts out the cost of networked conferencing hardware and IT services to install and maintain it. We're truly bringing professional-grade video conferencing to everyone, anywhere, on any device," Solaborate's founder and CEO Labinot Bytyqi said in August 2016.