People returning to work will not dent our growth momentum, says Zoom India boss Sameer Raje

The Zoom video conferencing platform has recorded successful revenues over the past two years, thanks to the digital transformation induced by COVID-19 on a global scale. However, Zoom’s shares plunged to a 17-month low last week after reporting its third-quarter results where revenue growth was lower than in previous quarters. However, according to the head of Zoom India, the platform works with large companies and SMEs in India not only for video conferencing, but as a tool for professional collaboration. This would include working for efficient hospital management services, registration attendance and educational purposes, among others.

Zoom announced the creation of a technology center in India last year and has since onboarded hundreds of employees. “We are actively recruiting in India,” Raje told BusinessToday.In in an exclusive interaction. He then spoke at length about the company’s plans for India and the challenges of digitization in a post-pandemic world. Edited excerpts.

BT: Did Zoom see any headwinds after the pandemic slowed? The fall in stocks following third quarter results and followed by a poorly forward-looking statement from the company translates this well.

Sameer raje: We would like to look at it from an optimist’s point of view [point of view]. Our revenue growth for the quarter was 35% year-over-year. Clearly, the peak in demand in the midst of the pandemic was significant and the increase in volumes occurred overnight. The pace at which we are now [in] is very different because people have started going back to work and so on. That’s not to say that Zoom won’t grow. We came from a time when there were no cell phones and people wondered if we would really need them in the long term. Look where we are right now. Now it will be very naive of us to say that the way of life adopted during the pandemic will change drastically. The broader view is that the world is moving towards a hybrid work environment where people won’t go to the office every day of the week. This therefore implies that our services will continue to be at the heart of business operations.

However, I maintain that the pace of growth will be different. To be able to meet the demands of a new hybrid work environment, we are offering new products to help people adapt.

BT: In India we have seen large companies recall people to work. Has this slowed down demand?

Rajé: The story still remains the same for India where employees who have returned to their hometowns spend less, save more and do not go to their workplace every day. As a result, Zoom will no longer be just a videoconferencing tool but rather a collaboration mechanism at work. I maintain that the rate of growth may not be the same as that of the pandemic, but we will continue to evolve.

BT: How would you compare the growth of your business, say, between the start of the pandemic and now?

Rajé: A lot of unpredictability still looms, especially with the threat of [this] new variant. It’s an unpredictable future at this point. Even the government of Maharashtra has delayed opening schools, other states are rethinking international flights. So at this point the future is very uncertain. It will be arrogant enough of me to give you [a] predict or make a futuristic statement that you will grow at the same rate as last year. I seriously hope and pray that things will get back to normal, but every day we hear a new story so anyone can guess what the growth rate will be.

BT: With the threat of the Omnicorn variant looming, what is the strategy for the future at Zoom, especially for India?

Rajé: We focus on a lot of India centric things including the small SME which is our mass market as we call them. So, there aren’t any small organizations that you usually know quickly jump on the bandwagon, but quickly collapse once markets reopen. On the other hand, large companies have embarked on consolidation and realized the power of collaboration, using sustainable tools with a hybrid working model in place. These employers are now building tools other than conventional computer systems. We will focus on both segments.

We continue to serve all spectra, from the largest of the big companies to [a] small time organization. There are mainly two segments – the education segment and the second is healthcare and pharmacy. These two are the critics.

BT: Besides these sectors, what other segments / industries have you seen demand coming from?

Rajé: I would like to remind you here that Zoom is no longer a videoconferencing tool. This

It is a full collaboration platform. And, as I explained last year, organizations, healthcare professionals, schools, everyone wanted zoom as a video calling app.

Today that thought is absolutely different. Hospitals, for example, want a management system where videoconferencing can be integrated or a non-bank organization through e-KYC, [or] schools through a learning management system. All integrations work [together] within the same environment. So a collaboration platform is no longer an app or a video conferencing tool, which is the difference we have seen last year and this year.

People talk very differently from us, we talk about platform integrations and integration into ERP systems, hospital management systems, etc. It could be triggering a Zoom meeting within the app, or if we’re in a meeting like this, having and introducing an app into that meeting.

BT: Can you highlight the kind of growth you’ve seen in customer acquisitions, and how was that different from the year before?

Rajé: Well, we’re not doing country specific numbers, but a lot of the growth now comes from non-US countries, which is the international region, [and] is a priority for us. And, of course, our growth continues in both segments, namely SMEs and enterprises, and there is a massive increase. We are absolutely optimistic about India and to tell you that it is among the first in the world.

BT: Last year, Zoom announced the establishment of a tech hub and its hiring plans for India. Are you still hiring?

Rajé: We are actively recruiting and have a strong team of 250 people. All recruits have been onboarded through Zoom and we are eager to recruit top Indian tech talent.

BT: Finally, what do you think about data localization and the upcoming data protection law? The MHA had previously reported security issues with Zoom.

Rajé: We are in close contact with regulators and welcome all laws that will protect the privacy of citizens. We engaged with MeitY, MHA, we engaged with all relevant ministries, we shared with them the necessary details — what were the rumors what were the facts, what actions were taken and what we will do to future and that’s the reason you know you don’t see any negative remarks or reactions against Zoom. Zoom has been declared safe to use, it was also raised in Parliament last year, it was declared safe to use.

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