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News & Analysis

BrightSpots: How Zoho put values above revenue to deal with covid-19

- June 30, 2020 2 MIN READ
COVID-19  will continue to present extraordinary challenges to Australian businesses and startups – even this week as Victoria braces for its second lockdown as it contends with another virus outbreak.

When it comes to this pandemic, nobody was entirely prepared, but there are some businesses – with deep pockets, vast expertise and contingency plans – in a privileged position to make it through the storm. Then there are many thousands of startups and small- and medium-sized businesses who need every cent, every piece of technology and every piece of advice just to survive.

Zoho is fortunate to be a larger business in a privileged position, but the company also places great importance on using its privilege to support and empower businesses with lesser fortunes, in every sense.

Zoho Chief Strategy Officer Vijay Sundaram’s motto on the issue is actions speak louder than words when it comes to big companies claiming to support smaller businesses.

“Global pandemics and economic crisis separate the ‘doers’ from the ‘sayers’. Like many businesses, we have a suite of software and services to help ailing businesses, but for us, turning a profit has always paled into insignificance when compared with our values and longer-term goals,” he said.

Putting its money where its mouth is how Zoho has navigated the past few months, launching program after program to help its small business users in any way it can including waving subscription fees and launching new tools to help make remote working easier.

“Sure, we know businesses and startups would’ve paid for our software, but we’d sooner sacrifice the revenue that comes with selling software to 100 businesses to instead give it to 1,000 businesses,” Sundaram said.

In the past few months alone it’s estimated Zoho has let go many millions of dollars to launch its Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance ProgramRemotely – a suite of 11 free apps which is now being used by more than 15,000 new global businesses – and unveil its recent Vertical Relief Plan to assist business and organisations in three of the worst-hit industries: retail, education and non-profit and government.

“It’s part of our broader values: relentless devotion, a focus on what – and who – matters and an unabated desire to do the right thing, always,”  Sundaram said.

“Too many businesses have clouded priorities, but in dire times, clouded priorities can see businesses die. We’re an independent company, beholden only to our customers and it’s this duty and desire to assist them that has underpinned everything we have said and done during the pandemic.”