Now that artificial intelligence (AI) has swept into the world of audio services, it's been making its way into customer service - but in the modern day, messaging perseveres as a crucial contender in communications. A startup entitled Zipwhip, however, is taking it a step further in offering a platform that allows businesses to connect to customers through text through any business line — landline, VoIP, or toll-free — and has recently announced the close of a funding round for $51.5 million.
This round, a Series D, is being led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from previous investors OpenView, M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) and Voyager Capital, and it brings the total raised by the startup to $92.5 million. John Lauer, co-founder and CEO of the Seattle-based company, said in an interview that it’s not disclosing valuation with this round but the figure is “absolutely higher than before.”
This is a growth round, and that’s what Zipwhip has mainly been doing since it last raised money, $22.5 million, in September of 2017.
Its revenues have grown by 80 percent in the last year as its customer base has hit 3.3 million phone numbers across 20,000 businesses (compared to 6,500 in 2017), including 100 large enterprises, and it’s inked deals with all the major carriers in the US in order to be able to interconnect business landlines to answer questions, sell things, and take complaints, all by text.
With the rest of the world’s carriers and business users still to tackle, there is a lot of growth at home left for the startup: it estimates that there are about 200 million business phone numbers in North America alone.
The opportunity and gap in the market that Zipwhip and companies like it — and there are others like OpenMarket (Lauer’s former company), MessageBird, Twilio to an extent and more — are attempting to tackle is that while a lot of businesses have set up the infrastructure to communicate with customers by phone, email and websites to sell them things, to receive complaints, to solve technical problems and other scenarios that require interactions, a lot of those customers are using text messaging in the rest of their lives, and ideally would prefer to have it as an option for all of those business interactions too.
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