We are trying to be a Global Development Centre for people in India, says Zoom GM & Head of India Sameer Raje
We've also established our tech center in Bangalore. Where we are trying to tap into the talent out here in India, the Zoom executive said.
Zoom has witnessed tremendous growth ever since the pandemic started. The video conferencing platform had just 10 million users globally back in December 2019, which ballooned to 200 million in March 2020. This trend has only increased in the past year. The platform now has over 300 million daily meeting participants and over 3.5 trillion daily meeting minutes. Beyond the subscribers, the pandemic has also widened Zoom's user-based. Earlier, the video conferencing platform mostly offered its services to large enterprises with a pepper IT infrastructure. During the pandemic, its use case widened and we saw people from all walks of life using it for various purposes. From hosting book-reading sessions to group video calls with family members to hosting yoga sessions, people around the world used it for all sorts of purposes.
It wouldn't be wrong to say that Zoom has witnessed exponential growth in the past two years. On the sidelines of these developments, we at HT Tech sat down for a conversation with Zoom's General Manager & Head of India Sameer Raje to understand what sort of an impact did the pandemic have on the platform and what are the company's plans for India.
During our conversation, Raje told us that Zoom had witnessed phenomenal growth in India and that the company planned to hire more talent in India in the coming days. Here are excerpts from our conversation with the Zoom India head...
When the pandemic hit the globe, Zoom's user base increased exponentially to around 300 million meeting participants daily in March 2020? Did you witness a similar growth trend in India?
During this time, we saw massive growth in India...Our traffic rose not only there but the number of users spiked up quite significantly across the globe. During the December  period, we reached close to about 100 million participants. By March 2021, we reached about 300,000,000 users. So that was a huge huge message.
So what was it like, to scale up things in a very short period of time? And what sort of challenges did you face?
The first point is...that we can scale in the shortest possible time frames. Being a cloud service provider, we have our data centers spread across the world. Two of them are in India as well. One in Hyderabad and one in Mumbai. So that gives the ability to scale up very fast and quickly.
Point number two is when the pandemic happened, the main thing that we saw was, Zoom was being used as a collaboration platform in all the enterprises like small and medium and large enterprises and organizations. When the pandemic started, we saw a lot of individual users...who started using our platform for a very different reason. It could be, you know somebody doing a Zumba class or somebody doing a yoga session or somebody even hosting a dinner party after party. It was very different and these kinds of users were also very different
They didn't have anybody to tell them what the setting needs to be done or how to protect themselves. How to exchange the URL, or how to set up a meeting, sharing the meeting information with your participants and so on and so forth. So, what we did is we embarked on a journey where we started doing webinar training for these kinds of users...and started training them on how to use Zoom in a safe manner. We also stopped or mandated certain features and functionality for them. Basically, we became the IT for them. That is a change we had to bring in immediately. A very short period of time to ensure the safety of those people.
So compared to the end of 2019 or the beginning of last year, things have started to improve and in a lot of countries, people are heading back to work. So what sort of an impact do you think will that have? And how are you adapting to this change?
When the workers get back...Zoom's or any video conferencing requirements and collaboration requirements are not going down. Let me explain here. There are two aspects to this. The first aspect is the fact that when you get back to the office, you are not going to give up your phone, are you? You're going to be using your phone. Whether you are going to use the office, desk, phone or whether you are going to use your mobile phone and console. Now you need to understand that in the pandemic video has become the new order. People like to see faces, people love to interact on a video compared to an audio file.
When we get back to the office, it's going to be very different...The future is more hybrid. People have seen the benefits and the organisations have seen the benefits.
If you look at zoom, Zoom is a complete collaboration platform. As I said, yeah it's not a video calling app. There are features and functions within Zoom that will help you get into the office. And we are bringing in new features, for example, we have the virtual receptionist which we've introduced, so there is nobody in person. No need for somebody to be in person to meet you when you enter the office. Similarly, You can decide whether you want to get into a conference, you know to maintain the social distance.
On top of it, new features, functions and capabilities will continue to get the users...to collaborate more in a more immersive manner. Yeah.
How has Zoom's growth trajectory been in India so far? Could you share some insights in this regard?
The trajectory has been just quite crazy because I still remember the day when I joined Zoom and we started operations on September 29, I was the first employee. Today we have 150 plus employees in the country. That's the kind of work we're talking about. Today. We have those employees spread across different functions, not only sales.
We have sales and engineering. Pre-sales support, tech support. We've also established our tech center in Bangalore. Where we are trying to tap into the talent out here in India and trying to be a global development center for people in India. The hiring will continue. The growth will continue and that's the kind of growth that we are looking at.
Could you talk a little about the kind of growth that you know you've witnessed in the enterprise segment?
We've seen massive growth in the enterprise segment as well as small and medium segment...Enterprise segment was reaching close to about 1.5 to 2x [growth]...and rest of the segments were close to about 25% to 30%...35% approximately increase in the last year. So quite a significant growth that we saw in this last one year.
Are there any specific industries that you are targeting in India and the APAC region?
In the pandemic, it has changed everything. Each and every industry has been a collaboration. So we cannot really be picky and choosy. that we want to work on this particular industry. It's a greenfield across right now.
So, let's talk a bit about the competition. So Webex and Google meet remain some of the most popular video conferencing platforms in the enterprise segment. So how are you competing with them?
Well, that's a great question and definitely, we've got some good great competitors out there. And how we compete is we focus on what we do our best...When we were born in 2011, even at that time we had a lot of competition...We continue to do what we do our best. There are two things. First is that we listen to our customers very closely at every step and point. Number two, we continue to earn over customers and bringing innovations that are aligned to our customers' thoughts.
What competition does well, absolutely all the best to them, but this is what we strategize on. This is what we focus on and this is how we grow.
Alright, so in continuation with that like Google has an entire ecosystem that is dedicated to catering the needs of college and school students and it doesn't only involve a video conferencing platform but a host of other apps and platforms. Do you plan on expanding Zoom's existing portfolio to meet some of those requirements?
I can tell you one thing that our focus is collaboration. We are a collaboration organization and we continue to focus on that. Anything that is in relation to collaboration platform, collaboration services is our growth...What we do is, we allow you to integrate Zoom into your applications. Now the application's strength resides with you. The strength of developing these platforms like LMS or your CRM is at the developer's end. We bring the strength of the collaboration platform and allow Zoom into your application...That helps us to continue or focus on collaboration services and helps service our customers much better rather than doing 10 other things.