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Video conferencing platform Zoom to strengthen its presence in India

Between January and April, Zoom saw a 6,700% increase in free user sign-ups in India.

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American video-conferencing service Zoom is going all out to expand its presence in India, which has emerged as one of the most important markets for the firm of late. The Silicon Valley headquartered company, in a virtual press conference on Tuesday, said it is setting up a new technology center in Bengaluru as well as going to hire extensively in the country over the next few years.

“India is a strategically important country for Zoom and we expect to see continued growth and investment here,” said Eric S. Yuan, CEO of Zoom. “We plan to hire key employees for the technology center over the next few years, pulling from India’s highly-educated engineering talent pool. This facility will play a critical role in Zoom’s continued growth.”

Earlier this year, Zoom saw a rapid growth in its user base in the world’s second-most-populous country during the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. According to the company, it saw a 6,700% increase in free user sign-ups in India from January to April this year, while paid subscribers grew four-fold.

Velchamy Sankarlingam, president of engineering at Zoom, said there is a need to scale the India team to keep with the growth and market needs. The company hired Sankarlingam last month, who was earlier with the American software giant VMware. According to him, India has the best technology talent pool to tap into.

Out of 17 data centers globally, the company currently has two data centers in the country, one each in Mumbai and Hyderabad. It said they have grown four times in capacity in the last four months.

Read this: Zoom is your new classroom: Will online education become the norm after COVID-19?

“There is a possibility of adding more data centers depending on the growth we see,” Sankarlingam said, adding, that the firm is expanding information and product security into India.

This comes three weeks after India’s largest conglomerate Reliance formally launched its cloud-based video conferencing service JioMeet, which has been criticized on social media for its resemblance to Zoom in design, layout, user interface, and features. Despite that, JioMeet, which comes under the ambit of Jio Platforms, the oil-to-retail conglomerate’s digital arm, has onboarded millions of users.

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance told shareholders in the annual general meeting last week that  JioMeet, which was built by “a young Jio Platforms team in just two months,” already had more than five million users.

According Sameer Raje, country manager, Zoom India, the company grew across the sectors and added large enterprise clients such as WNS, Tata Group, CRISIL, ICRA, and Religare. Before the healthcare crisis descended, Zoom said it had about 10 million daily meeting participants in the country, primarily focused on workplace collaboration. However, during the lockdown, it started seeing new use-cases.

“Since the start of the pandemic, so many new and innovative use cases have come up that we couldn’t imagine,” Aparna Bawa, Chief Operating Officer at Zoom said. “From yoga sessions, weddings, and funerals to M&A deals, earnings call, IPO roadshows, and graduation ceremonies — all of this can be done on Zoom.”

While Zoom has been growing by leaps and bounds in India, a slew of local companies have also entered this space such as Airmeet, Floor, Say Namaste, and KL Meet. In April, Zoom came under the government’s radar due to security concerns. India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had issued an advisory stating that Zoom isn’t a safe platform. India also announced a competition inviting local developers to make an alternative platform to Zoom with the winning prize of USD 134,000 (INR 1 crore). To allay the security concerns, Zoom has acquired message encryption startup Keybase to step up its security infrastructure as well as rolled out end-to-end encryption for the newest version of its application.