Video conferencing platform Zoom has had a successful revenue run over the past two years, thanks to the COVID-19-induced digital transformation globally. However, the shares of Zoom plunged to a 17 month-low last week after the announcement of its Q3 results where the revenue growth was below than that of the preceding quarters. However, according to Zoom India head, the platform is collaborating with some large corporate and SMBs in India for nor just video conferencing, but as a work collaboration tool. This would include working for efficient hospital management services, checking-in attendances, and educational purposes, among others.
Zoom last year announced setting up a technology centre in India and has onboarded hundreds of employees since. “We are actively hiring in India,” Raje told BusinessToday.In in an exclusive interaction. He further spoke at length about the company's plans for India, and on the challenges of digitalisation in a post-pandemic world. Edited excerpts.
BT: Has Zoom seen any headwinds post the pandemic having slowed down? The plunge in shares after the Q3 results and followed by the company's not a very forward-looking statement does convey it.
Sameer Raje: We would like to look at it from an optimist’s [point of view]. Our revenue growth during the quarter was 35 per cent YOY. Obviously, the spike in demand in the middle the of the pandemic was significant and surge in the volumes happened overnight. The pace at which we are now [in] is very different because people have started getting back to work and so on. That doesn’t mean that Zoom will not grow. We have come from an age where there were no mobile phones and people questioned whether we would actually require them in the long run. Look where we are right now. Now it will be very naïve of us to say that the way of life adopted during the pandemic will change drastically. The larger opinion is that the world is moving to a hybrid work environment where people will not attend offices during all the days of the week. Hence that implies, our services will continue to be at the core operations of the enterprises.
However, I maintain that the pace of growth will be different . To be able to cater to the demands of a new hybrid work environment, we are bringing in new products to help people adapt.
BT: In India, we saw large corporates calling people back to work. Has this dented the demand?
Raje: The story again remains the same for India where employees who have gone back to their hometowns, are spending less, saving more and not going to workplaces on all days. Suddenly Zoom will not be just a video conferencing tool but more of a work collaboration mechanism. I maintain the pace of growth may not be same as that of the pandemic, but we will continue to evolve.
BT: How would you compare your company's growth, say between the onset of pandemic and now?
Raje: A lot of unpredictability still looms large especially with the threat of [this] new variant. It is an unpredictable future at this stage. Even the Maharashtra government has delayed the opening of schools, other states are rethinking international flights. So, at this stage, future is very uncertain. It will be quite arrogant of me to give you [a] forecast or make a futuristic statement that you will grow at the same pace what it was last year. I seriously hope and pray that things get back to normal, but every single day, we are hearing some new story so it is anybody’s guess what the growth rate will be.
BT: With the threat of Omnicorn variant looming large, what is the strategy going forward at Zoom, especially for India?
Raje: We are focused on a lot of India-centric things, including the smaller SMB is our mass market, as we call them. So, there are no small organisations who usually you know are quick to come on the bandwagon, but are quick to fall-off once the markets re-open. On the other hand, big corporates have gone into consolidation and realised the power of collaboration, employing sustained tools with a hybrid work model in place. These employers are now building tools other than the conventional IT systems. Our focus will be on both segments.
We continue to service at all the spectrums, from largest of the large enterprise to [a] small time organisation. There are two segments mainly -- education segment and the second is the health care and pharma segments. Both these are the critical.
BT: Besides these sectors, what other segments/ industries have you seen the demand coming from?
Raje: I would like to reiterate here that Zoom is not a video conferencing tool anymore. It
It is a complete collaboration platform. And, as I explained last year, organisations, healthcare professionals, schools, everybody wanted zoom as a video calling application.
Today that thought is absolutely different. Hospitals, for instance, want a management system where video conferencing can be embedded or a non-banking organisation through e-KYC, [or] schools via learning management system. All integrations working [together] within the same environment. So a collaboration platform is no longer an application or a video conferencing tool, which is the difference we saw last year and this year.
People are talking very different to us, we are talking about platform integrations and integration into the ERP systems, hospital management systems, and so on and so forth. It could be firing up a Zoom meeting within the application, or if we are in a meeting like this, having and bringing in an application into this meeting.
BT: Can you highlight the kind of growth you have seen in customer acquisitions, and how different was it from the previous year?
Raje: Well, we don’t do country specific numbers, but a large share of growth now is coming in from the non-US countries, which is the international region, [and] is a key focus for us. And, of course, our growth continues in both segments, that is SMB as well as enterprise, and there is a massive bump up. We are absolutely bullish on India and to tell you the fact it is in the top few worldwide.
BT: Last year, Zoom announced setting up a technology centre and its hiring plans for India. Are you still hiring?
Raje: We are actively hiring and have a strong team of 250 people. All the hires have been onboarded via Zoom and we look forward to recruiting the great Indian tech talent.
BT: Lastly, what are your comments on the data localisation and the upcoming Data Protection bill? The MHA had earlier flagged security-related concerns with Zoom.
Raje: We are very much in touch with the regulators and welcome any laws which will protect the privacy of the citizens. We engaged with MeitY, MHA, we engaged with all the concerned ministries, we shared with them the necessary details --- what were rumors what were fact, what steps have been taken and what we will be done going ahead and that's the reason why you know you don’t see any adverse remarks or reaction against Zoom. Zoom was declared safe to be used, it was raised in the Parliament also last year it was declared safe to be used.
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