Zoho CEO predicts the end of offline software

a software revolution is unfolding before our very eyes

A great deal has been already said on this blog and elsewhere on the subject of cloud computing but our meeting with Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist for Zoho and Sridhar Vembu, the firm’s founder and CEO was very refreshing and led to some very interesting thoughts and visions. Zoho is a suite of applications that run over the Internet – in cloud mode – but what makes the suite stand out is that it is encompassing all sorts of domains, not just horizontal (CRM for instance) but also vertical.

will the cloud computing industry take over from the offline industry and when?

One of the main questions which was on everyone’s lips this morning was this one: will applications in the cloud be a big thing or not eventually, or just another of these missed opportunities that have been so numerous in the past of the IT market. Sridhar Vembu’s response came loud and clear in a visionary statement which was most striking: “The cloud computing software industry will have the best of the offline industry but it will take 10 years” he said. He went on describing the Oriental spirit of the firm and how his vision was in the long term rather than “flipping it” (i.e. reselling quickly in Silicon Valley parlance). But “Zoho is more into the long term” Vembu added. “Zoho is not looking for investment”, “it has no big ambition to take over the world, you don’t have to be a Google or a Microsoft to succeed”. This was a very refreshing and wise view. And he went on: “I don’t believe in a Microsoft monopoly in the cloud. There will be many actors” he said. He also stated that “3 million users is enough for [them] to live!” and that “during last year’s recession, [they] grew 100%”

The revenue made by the private company cannot be disclosed but Zoho is making profit and doesn’t have any debts. Yet, it refused publically takeover bids from Salesforce.com and wants to remain independent although he may also be looking for partnerships.

for a complete script of the June 1 presentation at Zoho check the Orange Business Live blog