Brendan Ittelson loves solving problems for people and enabling them to accomplish their goals. He loved it even as a kid when he was tapped to troubleshoot tech issues around his school so often that he started a “Tech Squad”, and it seems to me that he loves it more than ever now, as he serves as the CTO of Zoom. He took the helm in the early days of the pandemic, thereby stepping into a role important to all of us who have relied on Zoom to stay connected in trying times. It was a great pleasure to speak -- how else -- over Zoom.

Brendan's Developer Keynote from Zoomtopia 2021: Innovate with the Performance, Scale, and Reliability of Zoom

Topic Time Stamps 

1:15 - What was it like to step into the CTO role at Zoom in April 2020? 

3:00 - Were you aware of the weight of the role Zoom would play in the pandemic? 

4:10 - As you were talking with your customers in those early days, what did they say that they needed? 

5:18 - How important is the customer function within an organization, and what are some ways to be great at it? 

7:25 - What have been some of your most meaningful experiences in working with your customers? 

9:10 - With a much larger, much different user base now, how has the implementation or architecture of the product changed? 

11:10 - What were some of the surprising use cases that you heard about for Zoom and what was it like to hear those? 

12:40 - What questions or concerns that people building technology don't think about enough, or that people think about too much? 

14:25 - How do you foster innovation while still prioritizing simplicity? 

18:30 - Do you have a catchphrase or mantra that you're known for within the organization? 

19:40 - What are some things about technology that you are watchful or concerned about? What are things you see that make you optimistic or excited about the future? 

22:30 - What's the biggest challenge you're working on right now? 

23:30 — The moonshot vision for what Zoom will be in 2050. 

Pull Quotes from Brendan: 

On the focus for Zoom as the pandemic set in: "We were looking at, How can we "deliver happiness" and connect the world in such a critical time? We were so humbled to have technology that could help people connect and collaborate."

"Having the pulse on your customers and truly understanding them is key to sustainable business."

On getting valuable feedback from customers: "A lot of it is meeting individuals where they are, not where you are. What channels are you providing for customers to reach out? How are they engaged? How simple is that process? it's really looking at how you can do that and make that a seamless experience for the end user and be able to scale and processing that information."

"I fondly remember hearing about people getting married over Zoom, those personal experiences, and in most personal moments being able to connect and experience things at a different level even in this time when so many of us felt disconnected. It was just so empowering hearing that."

"Technology is amazing. There is so much that you can do and there is a natural inclination to build these complex systems. But the most complex system is actually the simplest system because you've actually gone through all the use cases and whittled it down, and refined and perfected that so that it is extremely easy to use, understand, and scale."

"The key thing for innovation is being able to step back, remove all the constraints, and have fun thinking about problems."

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