Zoho Corporation has announced a significant growth landmark. It is now serving over 100 million users across its 55+ business applications. The last few years have seen meteoric growth for the bootstrapped company. It announced last year that its annual revenue has reached $1 billion. Over the last five years, the company has doubled its user numbers. The rise in numbers is even more impressive, considering it only had 1 million users in 2008.
The company now has 700,000 customers across more than 150 countries. Unlike many other firms, its international expansion is not just the odd company and B-end entity. Its customer base is growing across the world. Earlier this year, it celebrated 10X growth in the Middle East. Last year, it launched in East Africa, bringing its suite of affordable solutions to the region and opening an office in Kenya.
What makes the growth doubly impressive is the lack of external funding. Zoho continues to build out its product suite, recently adding Ulaa, a privacy-centric browser. It focuses on debt-free growth and a strong culture that underpins everything it does. Part of this is its transnational localism, aiming to uplift local communities wherever it is based.
Enterprise Times asked Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist at Zoho, about transnational localism’s expansion. He replied, “Transnational localism was always meant to go beyond India and the US. We now have feet on the ground in over 25 countries hiring local talent and serving local customers and these continue to be in locations outside of the major cities you might expect, to help distribute economic growth. For example, we set up our office in Adelaide instead of Sydney in Australia; in Queretaro instead of Mexico City in Mexico; in Florianopolis instead of Sao Paolo in Brazil.”
This culture is most advanced in India, its home nation, where it already runs schools and hospitals to benefit rural areas. Enterprise Times recently spoke with Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer of Zoho, who painted a picture of a well-balanced company driven by culture rather than a search for profits. It is founded on values, culture and strategy that delivers profitable growth whilst staying true to itself.
Behind the growth
Enterprise Times also posed some questions to Vegesna about this announcement. I asked what is the annual growth rate on customers.
Vegesna replied, “More recently, we have been adding over 100K customers (companies, not users) in a year, and this trend has been accelerating. With over 700k global customers, we are one of the largest SaaS company serving B2B customers at scale.”
This is impressive, and few firms can compete with this growth. While the majority of customers added may be small, it is also starting to penetrate enterprise customers with more than 55 applications, including its suite Zoho One, which allows customers to leverage most of the Zoho applications with a single massively discounted licence. According to Vegesna, Zoho One is the portfolio’s most popular suite of applications, and its growth rate is healthy. But what about the other applications?
Vegesna stated, “Our popular applications vary by region. On the business front, apps like Zoho CRM & Zoho Books are popular. On the collaboration side, apps like Zoho Mail are popular and our popular suites include Zoho One, Zoho Workplace and Zoho CRM Plus.”
Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director, Zoho Europe, commented, “I want to thank all of our customers for trusting us with their business and helping us reach 100 million users worldwide. This is an impressive milestone for any organisation, but it’s particularly sweet for us as a bootstrapped company that’s never raised external capital. And we are not done yet. We have an impressive innovation pipeline covering the next 10 years, investing in deep technologies to serve billions of users around the world. We’re working towards it, and we want to thank all of you for your continued support.”
Looking forward, when does Zoho plan to hit 200 million users?
Vegesna replied, “We don’t make any estimates on when we might hit 200M users. We want to serve over a billion users and are working towards that.”
An ambitious goal. Further growth is almost inevitable, and to support that growth, Zoho continues to host Zoholics conferences worldwide. It has already held 13 events in the first half of the year and plans to host another 14 Zoholics events in fourteen countries in the next eight weeks. These will be held in APAC, Europe, LATAM, and India. It has already held four in Durban, Cape Town, the Philippines and Malaysia. The future events are in:
- Singapore – Sept 7
- Auckland, New Zealand – Sept 7
- Sydney, Australia – Sept 11-12
- Toronto, Canada – Sept 12-13
- London, UK – Sept 21-22
- Cologne, Germany – Sept 26-27
- Mexico City, Sept 27-28
- Bogotá, Colombia Oct 2-3
- Paris, France Oct 3-4
- Dhaka, Bangladesh Oct 5
- Santiago, Chile, Oct 5-6
- Madrid, Spain, Oct 10
- Bengaluru, India,- Oct 10-11
- Utrecht, Netherlands, Oct 12
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
One hundred million users is a phenomenal achievement. In comparison, few companies have achieved that. Microsoft boasts over 1 billion users of its software but has been doing this for far longer. Workday notes that it has 65 million users under contract, and SAP has over 280 million.
While still some distance behind SAP and especially Microsoft, there is little doubt that it will close the gap, and few companies seem able to match its rising popularity.
Zoho seems to have the right formula: a maniacal focus on delivering affordable products to meet the needs of businesses worldwide. A culture that has strong values and genuinely supports the local communities that it operates in. Importantly, it has achieved this growth while remaining profitable. It has done so with smaller marketing budgets than most other SaaS firms, and its word-of-mouth referrals have slowly taken it to ever larger companies.