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Screenshot: Zoom

Zoom is treading carefully into an ad-supported model, announcing on Monday that it would start showing ads to people who use its free, “basic” tier in certain countries.

Why it matters: Zoom wants to monetize the large numbers of people who got hooked on the platform during the pandemic.

Context: The company’s freemium business model is fueled by its enterprise contracts.

  • While Zoom doesn’t disclose how many people use the service for free — CFO Kelly Steckelberg noted during the company’s last earnings call that free calls make up about 30% of the minutes on its platform now compared with 10% pre-pandemic. 

Our thought bubble: People have gotten good at producing live shows and events via Zoom. If the company finds a way to make video broadcasts even easier through its developer program, it could better compete with YouTube and traditional TV.

Go deeper

Spotify doubling down on interactivity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Spotify is building a suite of interactive podcast features that will help users develop stronger personal relationships with niche creators.

Driving the news: In an interview with Axios, Spotify head of podcasts, live and video Michael Mignano said the company is working to have its user experience be "less passive" by adding things like video, polls, live audio conversations and Q&A features to its podcasts and subscription offering.

California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.