Tech firm Zoho celebrates milestone investments, R&D and expansion

Sridhar Vembu, Chief Executive Officer at Zoho Corporation

Zoho Corporation, a tech firm, achieved a rate of 38% YoY growth and surpassing the 80 million user mark. In addition to ongoing expansion, the firm continues to grow its product portfolio and make investments in automotive, robotics, and health care technologies.

Zoho also celebrated opening 59 new hub-and-spoke offices over the last two years to further support local communities. The announcement, made at Zoho’s annual analyst summit, affirms the firm’s commitment to developing resilient solutions that support all businesses, many of which have been negatively impacted by recent economic disruption.

What were the executive’s thoughts on the milestones?

“We’ve long felt that we have a responsibility to the communities and the world, whether that be through providing job opportunities to those with less access or by delivering products that help business grow to their potential,” said Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho Corporation.

“Our approach from the start of Zoho—now 26 years ago—still rings true today: nurture people and businesses, and lower the barrier of entry. Cost effective, yet built-for-scale products and regionally located offices aside, Zoho has built its business by being a partner that helps people thrive. Our success is their success and vice versa,” Vembu further said.

What is Zoho’s investment landscape to date?

Zoho has made strategic investments in automotive, robotics, and health care tech to support the development of and access to advanced solutions. These include:

  • An investment in Silicon Valley-based smart electric utility vehicles and powertrains manufacturer Boson, which focuses on light utility vehicles (LUVs). Boson’s initial focus is on farming, and Zoho shares that focus as it expands into rural areas across the globe.

  • An investment in electric motorcycle company Ultraviolette Automotive in partnership with TVS Motor Company, an India-based motorcycle manufacturer. The combined investment totals roughly $15 million and will support the launch of a new, high-performance electric two-wheel vehicle slated for release in 2022.

  • A $5 million investment in Voxelgrids, an Indian startup that builds Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners. This is being used to foster development of deep technological capabilities and intellectual property (IP) in the country.

  • Forming a consortium of local technology companies based in the Kongu region of India. Through this initiative, Zoho will make a capital investment to set up centers in the region focusing on the research and development of critical tech for capital goods manufacturing, like machine tools, industrial automation software, and production process know-how.

  • A $2.5 million investment in Genrobotics, an Indian startup building robotics and AI-powered solutions for social issues such as hazardous working conditions. Zoho’s investment will assist Genrobotics in its mission to eradicate manual scavenging in India and provide safety and dignity to workers in the sanitation and oil and gas industries. 

What is the role of R&D in Zoho’s market strategies?

Zoho’s investment and innovation philosophies are rooted in the research and development of powerful, unified tools that are customisable to any firm’s distinct business needs and vision. Over 60% of the firm’s workforce is devoted to engineering, both in the development of new tech and building ways for those apps to complement and integrate with one another.

To date, Zoho has developed more than 55 apps, having grown from 40 only two years ago. Though the scope of our offerings continues to increase, our price does not, and we remain committed to affordability—offering both free and paid versions of every product—and delivering software tailored to the distinct needs of small and medium-sized businesses.

How effective is Zoho’s Transnational Localism initiative?

Zoho continues to celebrate global expansion through its Transnational Localism effort, first introduced in early 2020 as a means to create self-reliant local communities and economies.

Since then, the initiative has grown to include new global offices, local hiring, partnerships with local organisations and government bodies to lower the technology adoption barrier for businesses, upskilling courses in association with educational institutes, language localisation including RTL support for languages like Arabic, and local pricing for several countries.

The offices opened as part of Zoho’s Transnational Localism efforts follow a hub-and-spoke model, with larger offices serving as hub to several dozen small spoke offices located in rural areas and towns. This method of growth allows employees to stay in their hometowns and contribute to their local community while working for a globally recognized tech company.

The company improved access to software and localised Zoho support, opening 59 hub-and-spoke offices in the last two years. In addition to aggressive expansion into new markets, like Canada, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, Zoho has announced plans to add 100 new small-scale offices in rural districts across India in the next few years.

Zoho celebrated regional growth, with headcount up 300% outside of India since the start of 2020. It aims to hire about 2,000 employees in engineering, tech, and product development, particularly software developers, quality assessment engineers, web developers, designers, product marketers, writers, technical support engineers, and sales execs in the next year.

The recent openings of Zoho’s McAllen and New Braunfels, TX, offices in April 2022 and December 2021, respectively, exemplifies this mission. Since its ribbon-cutting, the McAllen office hosts 40+ employees from surrounding communities, and has maintained an ambitious hiring cadence. The Braunfels office has added more than 30 employees since its opening.