Five years ago at Zoholics, Sridhar Vembu, founder and CEO of Zoho, announced the company’s move from California to Austin.

It bought a 369-acre campus near the Austin airport. Zoho planned to build a campus there, but the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and plans changed. The company runs a farm on the site now and has 100 employees in an Austin office building.

The company has also opened an office in New Braunfels with 50 employees and McAllen with 80 employees.

McAllen is Zoho’s fastest-growing campus, Vembu said.

Vembu said Zoho’s problem was that Austin became too expensive. He wanted his employees to be able to buy houses and put down roots in Austin, but home prices shot up as other tech companies expanded operations there.

Zoho also plans to open a manufacturing plant in India, Vembu said.

During his keynote address at Zoholics Wednesday morning, Vembu emphasized the importance of leveraging technology and innovation in building world-class products. This includes integrating documentation systems and other tools to enhance productivity and efficiency.

However, most of his talk discussed the company’s long-term commitment to its employees and customers. This includes providing superior customer experiences and ensuring employee satisfaction and retention.

Vembu also highlighted the company’s stance on data privacy and security. He emphasized that Zoho does not monetize customer data and maintains stringent privacy measures, which align with global regulations and best practices.

Zoho, founded 28 years ago, is bootstrapped and prides itself on being profitable without succumbing to the quarterly pressures of public companies. Vembu, a billionaire, said he isn’t afraid of making mistakes or taking U-turns if things don’t work out. And he’s able to do that because the company is debt-free and isn’t beholden to investors or the stock market.

 Zoho also avoids unnecessary cost-cutting like layoffs and focuses on sustainable growth and maintaining a strong financial foundation.

Vembu stressed the importance of investing in employees, continuous learning, and skill development. The company adopts principles like Kaizen for continuous refinement and constantly encourages its employees to upgrade their skills.: The issue of customer fatigue due to multiple software applications was discussed. The speaker mentioned the company’s efforts in improving integration and providing seamless user experiences

The potential for automation in programming and its impact on productivity was a major topic. Vembu predicted significant improvements in programmer productivity and the role of AI in transforming software development.