Zoom will suspend direct sales to customers in mainland China

Sabina Weston

4 Aug, 2020

Zoom will suspend direct sales of its video conferencing products in mainland China, opting to only offer its technology through third-party partners. 

The change to Zoom’s sales policy, which is scheduled to come into force on 23 August, comes after US lawmakers raised questions about the company’s ties to the Chinese government, following its decision to suspend the accounts of several Chinese activists in June

The company announced the decision on its Chinese website and issued the following statement: “Our go-to-market model in Mainland China has included direct sales, online subscription, and sales through partners. We are now shifting to a partner-only model with Zoom technology embedded in partner offerings, which will provide better local support to users in Mainland China.”

Zoom’s services will now be embedded in offerings from its Chinese partners such as Bizconf Communications, Suirui Zhumu Video Conference, and Systec Umeet. Despite the change, users in mainland China will reportedly still be able to join regular Zoom meetings as participants.

The decision is likely to be linked to Zoom’s efforts to avoid facing the same scrutiny as video-sharing social networking service TikTok, owned by the Beijing-based ByteDance. The US government has been exploring the option of banning the service and this could extend to other tech services in any way affiliated with China.

In May, Zoom decided to limit new registrations in China to enterprise users who sign up for the teleconferencing service through an authorised sales representative.

Zoom’s founder and CEO Eric Yuan moved to the US from China in 1997, becoming a US citizen in 2007. Zoom is headquartered and founded in San Jose, California, but a significant portion of its development team is based in China. 

Nevertheless, the company has recently shifted its focus from China to India. Last week, it announced that it is recruiting DevOps engineers and IT, Security, and Business Operations personnel for a new technology centre in Bangalore.

IT Pro 20/20: Small businesses will lead the new normal

Dale Walker

3 Aug, 2020

Welcome to the seventh issue of IT Pro 20/20, our digital magazine that brings all of the previous month’s most important tech issues into clear view.

Each month, we will shine a spotlight on the content that we feel every IT professional should be aware of, only in a condensed version that can be read on the go, at a time that suits you.

This time we’re turning our attention to a part of the tech industry that has shown remarkable resilience during a time of upheaval. The small business and startups sectors have long been associated with innovation, agility, fresh talent, and, let’s face it, quirkiness. The smaller you are, the easier it is to shake things up, whether that’s in the way employees work or the markets that are targeted.

Yet, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many larger businesses to go back to basics. Restructuring is now common, and so too is mass remote work. Some business processes no longer work as well as they did, while others have ground to a halt entirely. In many ways, the larger firms have had to behave like startups in order to survive, taking cues about the prioritisation of agility above all else and abandoning longer-tail projects in favour of those that provide immediate value.

It’s this idea of smaller businesses driving the new normal that’s the theme for most of our articles this month, although it’s most prominent in our lead feature, which takes a look at the trends that are likely to define how we work over the next few years. Elsewhere, we’ve got some industry tips on how to begin building your SMB tech stack, a somewhat frank discussion on the hidden dangers of bringing staff back from furlough, and a look at whether it’s wise to launch a new business right now.


The next IT Pro 20/20 will be available on Friday 28 August. Previous issues can be found here.

We hope you enjoy reading this month’s issue. If you would like to receive each issue in your inbox as they release, you can subscribe to our mailing list here.

Microsoft won’t reopen its offices until January 2021

Carly Page

3 Aug, 2020

Microsoft has confirmed that it won’t fully reopen its offices until January 2021.

The company, which first began to allow employees to work from home in March in light of the coronavirus pandemic, told The Verge that employees won’t return to its US offices until 19 January 2021 at the earliest.

It’s currently planning a six-stage phased “hybrid” approach for the re-opening of its offices, the report states.

Stage six, which will see Microsoft’s offices returning to normal operations, will only be reached when most restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 outbreak have been lifted and when health data suggests it’s safe for employees to return.

“On July 30th, we shared additional information on our hybrid workplace strategy with our global workforce and extended the option of working remotely through January 19, 2021 at the earliest in the US,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in the statement.

“We continue to review the situation on a local basis in each region/country/state where we work and will continue to adjust dates by country as needed.”

We’ve asked Microsoft whether this policy also extends to its employees in the UK but have not yet received a response. 

Microsoft isn’t alone in its plans to not return to offices until 2021. Google is planning to keep its employees working remotely until July 2021, Apple employees won’t be returning to offices until early next year and Twitter has said that staff can work remotely indefinitely

However, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella previously warned of the dangers of permanent remote working. He said that while productivity has risen for many of Microsoft’s workers, companies risk losing out on a connected workforce if long-term working from home is implemented, which could also impact things such as mentorship programs and team building activities.