Zoho has a great story
It’s refreshing to associate with a corporation that invests in it’s product, partners, and staff and is committed to maintaining their corporate culture. As a privately held company, Zoho has had the luxury to develop products that meet client needs, rather than rush to market to satisfy shareholder expectations.
These days we tend to think most corporate executives as soulless, bottom-line driven, and aloof. Ah, but then there is the Zoho leadership team to restore one’s faith. Zoho is made up of authentic, down-to-earth people who stay connected to their customers and employees.
Attend a user conference at their corporate HQ in Pleasanton, CA – you’ll see the company president, Raj Sabhlok, personally greeting attendees. Or spend a pleasant 20 minutes talking with the company founder and CEO, Shridar Vembu. The conversation may range from philosophical musings, to the best place for coffee, to product development. Shridar is as friendly, humble, and down-to-earth as they come.
If corporations are people, then think of Zoho Corp. as that friendly neighbor who cheers on your kids, has all the tools you need for any project, and lives well within his means. As Shridar himself has said, “How many cars does one person need?”
Zoho likes to say it’s a product company, not a sales company. They invest heavily in R & D rather than spend significant dollars on sales and marketing (they spend 80% on development, and 20% on marketing, inverting the approach that companies like salesforce.com take. It’s an unusual strategy for a billion-dollar company – but their heads-down attention to product development is working.
Zoho also focuses on their community and their employees – which is often one and the same. Their Zoho University in Chennai began as a social responsibility experiment. Classes are comprised of students from rural India (for whom a university education would have been impossible). Rather than require students to pay for their education, they receive a stipend while attending school. The Zoho Corp. event center, completed in 2014, is the base for Zoho corporate conferences and events, but is also made available for community access and local programs.
After graduation, if what they were hired to do isn’t the best fit, they’re free to find a position within Zoho more suited to their skills and interest. An increasing number of the 2,600-strong Zoho Corp. workforce are hired this way. It’s hardly a surprise that employee attrition is low and loyalty is high. The campuses and housing they’re building for employees now doubt will strengthen those bonds.
Zoho Corp. has built a great company by bootstrapping its way to success. They’ve shunned outside investors to control the pace and quality of development. They treat their employees, customers, and partners as if they actually matter – which means they’re building relationships for the long term. It makes for a nice change, doesn’t it?