The logo of the video-conferencing provider Zoom is seen on a screen of a phone next to a red illustration of world and financial markets in Frankfurt, Germany, on April 14, 2020. Image: Alexander Pohl/ NurPhoto via AFP

With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many companies in India to allow their employees to work remotely, video-conferencing has become the new normal for official meetings. This has led to a rush to download numerous video-conferencing apps, and the popularity of Zoom soared, as it was considered the most user-friendly.

The US-based company claimed that from January to April, it saw a whopping 6,700% growth in free user signups in India, while its paid user base grew at least 400%, as people used the app for connecting with friends and family members.

Now the company is planning to open a technology center in Bangalore, in addition to its offices in Mumbai and Hyderabad. The Bangalore center will supplement Zoom’s existing research and development centers and support its engineering team based at its headquarters in San Jose.

Making this announcement, Velchamy Sankarlingam, president of product and engineering for Zoom, said, “We have a world-class team, but to keep up with the growth and to keep up with the needs of the markets that we are addressing, we need to grow.”

He said the company is looking to recruit DevOps engineers and IT and security staff, and increase its business operations headcount. The recruitment will begin shortly and initially these employees will work from home until the pandemic subsides. The company will also ramp up its Mumbai office to three times its existing size and add two more data centers, one in Mumbai and the other in Hyderabad.

Zoom’s head of international Abe Smith, COO Aparna Bawa, and India head Sameer Raje also took part in the virtual meeting. In her address Aparna emphasized the company’s US pedigree. “We are a US company, we are listed on the Nasdaq and we have our headquarters in San Jose, California,” she said.

As Zoom’s founder, Eric Yuan, happens to be a Chinese-American, the company is often mistakenly thought to be a Chinese entity and was impacted by the prevailing anti-China sentiment in India, after the recent border skirmish.

Earlier this year, Zoom also faced Indian government scrutiny over the safety of its app. It had deemed Zoom to be an unsafe platform and even issued an advisory that government employees should not use it for official work. It had also drawn flak over security issues from other countries, so it released Zoom 5.0, which has encryption and new privacy controls.

Zoom is also facing competition in India, from homegrown players such as JioMeet and the Airtel-BlueJeans. JioMeet, launched by telecom company Reliance Jio, which has features that are similar to Zoom’s, is completely free. Other competitor platforms include Cisco’s Webex, Microsoft’s Teams and Google’s Meet.