Freshdesk makes its 5th acquisition in under a year - buys Airwoot for social media customer care


Cloud-based customer service software provider Freshdesk has acquired Airwoot, a startup that helps deliver customer service on social media, for an undisclosed amount.

Founded in 2012 by Delhi-based IT researcher Saurabh Arora, Airwoot will continue to be a separate entity, while their algorithm will be integrated into Freshdesk for automation.

Significance of social media in customer care

Till five years ago, the primary mode for a customer to reach a company was phone and email. But social media has taken that position now. Ticket volume from social media till about 2011 was 15 percent, whereas now it is 25 percent. This is bound to increase as social media has become almost the primary mode of customer feedback.

Freshdesk aims to build a help desk that allows their clients to reach customers across channels. But till now, the support that Freshdesk could deliver on social media was manual. The acquisition of Airwoot is expected to deepen Freshdesk’s social support capabilities.

Many brands have 10,000 users interacting daily with them on social media, but this includes promotions and marketing campaigns besides customer care queries. Determining which keywords to track can be challenging. Airwoot uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to pick up what is relevant and needs to be acted upon, from the brands’ social media handles.

Airwoot claims that their algorithms can predict when a conversation is likely to go viral and can alert companies to act. Airwoot has e-commerce Unicorn Snapdeal among its clients. Sushant Kumar, Associate Director, Marketing at Snapdeal, said: “As a result of our work with Airwoot, we’ve become one of the most responsive brands in India with a response rate of over 98 per cent and a response time of under two minutes."

The five year journey

Launched in 2011, the brainchild of Chennai-based techies Girish Mathrubootham and Shan Krishnaswamy, Freshdesk has been India’s pioneer in enterprise software industry that is estimated to be worth $300 billion. In the last five years, they have raised $95 million in six rounds from Accel Partners, Google Capital and Tiger Global. The company was valued at $500 million last year, and claims to have 70,000 customers.

Freshdesk claims to have no particular plans in acquisitions, adding that these happen only when there is a right product and culture fit. “For previous acquisitions too, it started with conversations on how to integrate both products,” a spokesperson said. Since Freshdesk offers different channels, their acquisitions aim to strengthen each of them. “We help our customers to reach out through phone, email, chat. Our first acquisition - 1CLICK – brought voice and video chat features,” the spokesperson said.

Freshdesk’s previous acquisitions:

  • August 2015 - live video chat provider
  • October 2015 - social recommendation app Frilp
  • December 2015 - mobile-first user engagement platform Konotor
  • February 2016 - online collaboration platform for teams, Framebench

The enterprise software market is estimated to be worth $300 billion. Contact centers have made way to customer engagement centers via social channels. With Facebook’s messenger for businesses coming up, chat bots seem to be like a great step forward in increasing agent productivity, said Girish.

Freshdesk is already competing with global players like Zendesk. But nothing seems to be holding them back. Girish told YourStory:

When we started the company, we named it Freshdesk - to mean a fresh (help)desk. When the world was still looking at customer support via traditional channels like phone and email, we saw an opportunity to help companies engage with their customers better - on traditional channels and social channels.Today we see the future of customer engagement being redefined by chat-bots, social, in-app experiences and machine learning for automation and intelligence.