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Gupshup buys Sequoia-backed OneDirect in 4th acquisition this year
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Gupshup on Thursday said it has acquired omnichannel customer service platform OneDirect in the conversational messaging platform's fourth acquisition this year alone and its fifth since September 2021. 

The acquisition strengthens Gupshup’s suite of conversational solutions and enables superior omnichannel conversational engagement with a powerful and flexible live Agent Assist solution, said Gupshup in a statement without disclosing the financial details. 

In an interaction with VCCircle, Beerud Sheth, Co-Founder and CEO, Gupshup, said that the transaction was a mix of cash and stock deal and the entire team of OneDirect like in its previous acquisitions will continue to lead the company. 

OneDirect was started in 2013 under Coraza Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which also operated personal assistant platform Tapzo.  

Tapzo in 2018 announced that it had shut its app after reportedly being in the news that Amazon will acquire it.  

The acquisition of Tapzo by Amazon was not made public even as media reports pegged the deal at $30-40 million.  

Tapzo, which had its origins in 2010, initially started off as Akosha.com, an online customer feedback platform.  

In 2015, it rebranded itself as Helpchat, a chat-based personal assistant. Subsequently, in November 2016, it underwent one more pivot and became Tapzo while picking up venture funding from the likes of Sequoia Capital and American Express over the years.  

OneDirect meanwhile continued to work as a sperate entity. 

OneDirect, which also counted Sequoia Capital and American Express among its investors, enables businesses to manage all customer conversations across multiple channels such as SMS, WhatsApp, voice and email using a simple and unified agent dashboard interface. It claims to have processed over 1 billion customer interactions across 10 different languages for brands like Canara Bank, Tata Capital, Paytm, and Pizzahut. 

“We are excited to join the Gupshup family and look forward to building more efficient and personalized conversational experiences," said Vishrut Chalsani, Co-Founder and CEO, OneDirect. 

"Gupshup’s advanced AI capabilities combined with Onedirect's robust customer service and engagement platform will provide businesses the ability to reinvent customer experience," added Chalsani. 

Gupshup's Sheth said that the acquisition of OneDirect was "probably the last of the original set of target companies it was evaluating" since last year.  

"There is no specific acquisiton at the moment but there is an active pipeline and we continue to evaluate," he added. 

He also said that with OneDirect's acquisition its product capability looks complete and it is "less likely" to buy anything to strengthen its product side.  

"Next perhaps we might look at a company that will help us in geographical expansion. But the space and customer demands keep evolving so we'll continue to keep a watch on everything," he added. 

For geographical expansion, Gupshup's focus is on all the emerging markets. "We are seeing a huge need for conversational engagement in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, and we have physical team in all of these geographies. Beyond these regions we will keep evaluating for partners," he explained. 

Gupshup's three acquisitions earlier this year were -- virtual shopping assistant platform, AskSkid (April), conversational AI platform for fintech and banks, Active.Ai (April), and cloud telephony company, Knowlarity Communications (February). 

Gupshup is also on track to raise its pre-IPO funding round despite the tight liquidity environment. 

"We are on the verge of putting it together. It is very difficult funding market. In our case we have growth and profitablity so we are in a middle of an update and we will have an announcement soon," he said. 

In April, Sheth had told VCCircle that it is in talks with potential investors for a pre-IPO funding of $100-200 million or even larger. 

"(On the general funding environment) the challenge is that a lot of investors have lost money in the public markets and it may take a little longer for them to get to a yes. That is the reason why the fundraise becomes harder and that has nothing to do with the companies. But some other investors are not as leveraged and some of them may have benefited from this market -- oil prices are up so the Middle East money has increased a lot. As an entrepreneur I don't worry about it and focus on building my business," he explained. 

Sheth also said that as earlier planned the company is ready and targeting its initial public offering (IPO) at the end of the year or early next year depending on market conditions. 

In April 2021, Gupshup raised a primary funding of $100 million from Tiger Global which marked its entry into the unicorn club. Few months later, it secured an additional $240 million in its Series F round of funding, paving the way for an exit of its early investors. 

A unicorn is a startup with a valuation of over $1 billion. 

Founded in 2004 by Beerud Sheth and Rakesh Mathur, Gupshup pivoted from being an offline search engine to a business-to-business (B2B) customer engagement platform across SMS and other channels. 

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