Zoho Chooses To Stay Private, Instead Of IPO: Sridhar Vembu

Zoho Chooses To Stay Private, Instead Of IPO: Sridhar Vembu


In the inaugural session of Day 1 of The Makers Summit 2022, organised by Inc42, business magnate and Padma Shri holder Sridhar Vembu cleared the air around the company’s IPO plans

The Zoho founder talked about corporate governance and the much needed due diligence from investors' point of view considering the many cases including that of Zilingo, BharatPe, Zepto, among others

SaaS unicorn Zoho is a 25-year-old bootstrapped company, that has been profitable since the year of its inception

With Indian startups at the cusp of product invention, a lot of questions come to mind. And who better than the billionaire business magnate and the founder & CEO of Zoho Corporation, one of the world’s largest SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies, Sridhar Vembu to share insights into the industry.

That being said, Zoho has been the talk of the ecosystem for a very long time, especially since its competitor Freshworks recently went public in the US markets. Talking at The Maker’s Summit 2022, Vembu shared that his company has a great audit team that works on due diligence.

He told Vaibhav Vardhan, cofounder and CEO, Inc42, that as a CEO, he focusses on bringing businesses, while his audit and legal teams ensure complete ownership over the company controls.

Answering Vardhan’s question on how Zoho complies with multiple stakeholders, barring investors since Zoho is bootstrapped, Sridhar Vembu mentioned that the SaaS giant has developed its controls in line with the toughest policies from countries such as the EU, Africa, the US, making the company’s policy transparent.

“We could actually be a public company with the controls that we [Zoho] have, but we choose to remain private,” he said.

In fact, Vembu has previously, too, said that even as Indian startups are going the IPO way, he loves his freedom and has no plans to take the company public.

Inc42 had reported consistently on the lack of due diligence done by investors before investing in a startup. The BharatPe saga brought the issue to the limelight, and a slew of incidents and discrepancies at growth-stage startups such as Zepto and unicorns such as Zetwerk has concerned investors in the Indian startup ecosystem.

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From An Entrepreneur To An Investor

Sridhar Vembu built Zoho, a SaaS unicorn based out of Chennai in 1996, which employs more than 12K people and has transformed Chennai into India’s SaaS hub. It also runs the Zoho University for unique education and staffing practices. It recently launched Trainer’s Central an LMS for trainers to build and sell their courses to online learners.

You might say Zoho’s not the only company in its league, but it is if you consider the fact that Vembu has been running Zoho as a bootstrapped company for 25 years now, and it has been profitable every single year since its inception. Only in FY21, Zoho posted a total PAT of INR 1,917.7 Cr, a 139.4% rise from FY20.

India is moving toward the SaaS economy, with Indian startups increasingly building products for enterprises. In fact, in only the first quarter of CY22, enterprisetech startups raised over $2 Bn in funding, emerging as the fastest-growing sector in Q1 CY22.

With offices in the US, Singapore, UAE, Japan and eight other nations, Zoho has more than 50 integrated online applications that support multiple business operations spanning sales and marketing, finance, email and collaboration, app creator and analytics among others.

Thus, it is natural that new-age entrepreneurs trying to make it big in the enterprise tech ecosystem look up to him.

Zoho is also an investor in healthtech startup Voxelgrids, aimed at a larger healthtech goal. In 2019, Zoho had acqui-hired an automated hiring product startup, ePoise Systems, for an undisclosed amount.

Zoho Corp has invested close to INR 250 Cr in startups such as semiconductor company Signalchip and medical device company vTitan.

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TMS 2022 Is Here!

Vembu joined the inaugural session of The Makers Summit (TMS) 2022, which has a lineup of impressive sessions and speakers joining from the startup ecosystem. From the likes of Dunzo’s Kabeer Biswas to Unacademy’s Gaurav Munjal, the two-day event is full of exciting discussions.

TMS 2022 is all set with a lineup of some of the most scintillating product makers in India. We are bringing together over 75 of India’s best product minds, makers, founders and leaders to decode the product and business strategies of the nation’s fastest-growing startups that are fast becoming global product benchmarks.

Wondering what’s in store at The Makers Summit 2022? We have an array of masterclasses, panel discussions and of course, fireside chats with product leaders, experts, founders and investors backing the product ecosystem.

Don’t miss out on the session, where industry mavericks including leading product makers, designers, founders and investors share their first-hand growth stories and product journeys, and explore how new models and segments are being built to scale by startups of all sizes in India.

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