On Monday, Facebook acquired a New York-based startup “Kustomer” which is aimed at managing customer relationships with chatbots. The deal was reported to seal at 1 Billion dollars. Kustomer is basically a customer service startup started five years ago, that helps different businesses to interact with their customers online through chatbots. It is an omnichannel CRM platform that brings customer interactions with businesses from diverse channels into a single screen. It was roughly valued at 710 million dollars in a private funding round.
Although Facebook has declared on the same day of Kustomer’s acquisition that Kustomer businesses will continue to remain owners of the data that comes from interactions with their respective customers. This deal adds up as the leading social network of the world continues to accumulate e-commerce into complementary offerings, just like its WhatsApp and Messenger messaging services. So now, businesses and customers can be connected for interactions using Facebook-owned social platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.
Although Facebook won’t be able to automatically access Kustomer data in order to show ads to its users, businesses will get the alternative to use their data at Kustomer for their own marketing objectives, which may include Facebook’s separate advertising services. Dan Levy, the Vice President of Ads and Business Products Department of Facebook, said that Facebook is eventually expecting to host Kustomer data on secure Facebook infrastructure.
According to Matt Idema, COO of Whatsapp, more than 175 million people and 50 million businesses contact Whatsapp business accounts on a daily basis, and the number is fast-growing as message interactions give a rich overall customer experience and stimulate sales for the businesses. “Our goal with Kustomer is simple: to give businesses access to best-in-class tools that deliver excellent service and support”, he stated. “With our complementary capabilities, we will be able to help more people benefit from customer service that is faster, richer and available whenever and however they need it—via phone, email, text, web chat or messaging,” says Kustomer chief executive Brad Birnbaum, after merging with Facebook.
Kustomer will continue its services for its existing clients even after the co-founders and the rest of the team of Kustomer joins Facebook. Facebook, in its part, will provide resources for Kustomer to grow as well as innovate. Birnbaum also stated in an interview that they are looking forward to enriching the messaging experience which he believes is one of the fastest-growing ways for customers and businesses to engage and strengthen their relationships.
“To that end, we recently announced several API updates for WhatsApp and Messenger, allowing for further integration into our partners’ tools and faster onboarding to help businesses manage their communications with customers,” Idema declared in a statement. The deal is yet to be approved by regulators. It is hoped that the key financial terms will be disclosed after the approval.