One of the largest SaaS-based startups from India, Freshdesk, today announced the acquisition of Chatimity, a social chat platform, that developed artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbot technology. This is Freshdesk's sixth acquisition in 14 months. The company believes that Chatimity's technology will help it scale chat infrastructure and build next gen chat products.
The size of the deal is unknown, but the company spokesperson confirmed that it's a cash + equity deal. The seven-member Chatimity team has moved to Chennai and joined Freshdesk where they will work towards enhancing the company’s live chat offerings.
Chatimity - story
Chatimity was founded in May 2011 in Bengaluru by former Googlers Tarkeshwar Thakur and Aravind Murthy. They worked together on Google Music Search before starting Chatimity.
Chatimity was built to enable user interactions and improve engagement for its three million users.
Chatimity’s multipurpose AI-based bot, MITI, uses a combination of NLP (Natural Language Processing), state machines and AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language) to hold conversations across thousands of users in real time. The team has prototyped several interactive bots, including one for a popular travel website. Think of the bot as an 'ask me anything' travel agent: "What are best hotels in Hawaii with a swimming pool under $200?" or "How far is my hotel from the airport?" are some of the questions that MITI can respond to immediately, helping consumers as they make travel decision. Many of those who interacted with MITI believed that they were communicating with a real person.
Tarkeshwar Thakur, Co-founder and CEO of Chatimity, said,
Our team was able to get a glimpse of what Freshdesk was already working on and we immediately knew that our team and technology would complement and accelerate product development at Freshdesk with a strong focus on AI and chat tech.
Freshdesk and acquisitions
Freshdesk's earlier acquisition include:
- Airwoot - platform offering customer service solution on social media in April 2016
- Framebench - an online collaboration platform in February 2016
- Konotor - Chennai-based messaging app in December 2015
- Frilp - an online platform that helps users discover a shop or service through their friends and people in October 2015
- 1CLICK - video, voice and text chat platform with collaborative features screen sharing and conversation recording in August 2015.
Their acquistion philosophy involves a simple mechanism. The company's spokesperson said,
All our potential acquisition conversations usually start around integrating two products and usually around a month before we lock on an acquisition.
Freshdesk disclosed that they have been building chatbots and working on technology around chat internally as well. The spokesperson said,
Chatimity had already built a prototype and their technology was in line with what we were building. Hence, their technology will be harnessed to empower our own.
Three most important factors which influence the decision to acquire a startup for Freshdesk are:
- Alignment of business goals
- Integration between the two technologies
- Culture fit
The company is not actively looking at acquiring companies from any sector. The spokesperson said,
When companies come to us looking to partner with us, or integrate our technologies, and we find that there is a strong synergy in our business goals and technologies and think that the team behind the product would make great culture fits at Freshdesk, we offer to acquire them. This is how all of our acquisitions have taken place.
One thing Freshdesk is aggressive about
Freshdesk's Freshsales, an intelligent CRM for high-velocity teams, recently launched an out-of-home campaign in San Francisco taking on one of its biggest rivals, Salesforce CRM right at the heart of Dreamforce. Freshdesk claims that the only thing it is aggressive about is enabling great customer experience. The spokesperson said,
In our recent campaign for Freshsales, we targeted the pain points of CRM users, having felt it ourselves and empathising with them. Our customers are our true North, and they certainly know it.
Girish Mathrubootham, Founder and CEO of Freshdesk said,
People want a fast, personalised response. Chat will play an important role in the future of communication for customer service but scaling that infrastructure continues to be a challenge. With their focus on artificial intelligence and chatbots, the Chatimity team, now part of Freshdesk, has already started to create a scalable customer engagement chat platform that is future ready.
Freshdesk believes that each acquisition not only brings new capabilities to Freshdesk products, they also bring intelligent and creative talent to the growing team. Earlier this year, Freshdesk opened its fifth office in Berlin, Germany. The company has presence in India(Chennai), USA(San Francisco), UK(London) and Australia(Sydney).