Facebook acquires customer service software maker Kustomer

Facebook Inc. has acquired Kustomer Inc., a New York-based software company that helps businesses manage customer conversations from multiple departments on a single dashboard.

The deal was valued at over $ 1 billion, said a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be identified as the terms were private.

The social media giant has struck the deal to bolster efforts to monetize its messaging business, which expands to include customer service products that help businesses engage with people through chat apps, like WhatsApp. and Messenger.

“Every business knows that when the phone rings, it has to answer it. More and more, texting and messaging has become just as important as that phone call – and businesses need to adapt, ”Facebook executives wrote in a blog post. Kustomer also offers automated tools to make it easier for businesses to manage customer inquiries using bots.

Facebook has made customer service a central part of its business strategy on WhatsApp, the world’s most popular messaging service. He has signed deals with trade-related companies in India and Indonesia, and is working on a payment functionality to launch in key markets such as Brazil. The hope is that businesses will someday use WhatsApp as their de facto website, allowing customers to browse their product catalogs, make purchases, and interact with businesses directly for customer service needs, all within. the application.

WhatsApp is currently making money by charging large companies to send messages to customers on the app instead of an email. Some customer service platforms, like Kustomer, use WhatsApp software to allow businesses to manage these interactions on a single interface. Facebook executives said Kustomer will continue to operate the business as usual while the acquisition goes through regulatory review.

It’s unclear whether regulators will challenge the deal. Facebook is already under antitrust scrutiny for its previous acquisitions, including its purchase of WhatsApp in 2014. Competitive customer service companies will still be able to offer WhatsApp corporate messaging even though Facebook will now own one of these. tools itself, according to WhatsApp COO Matt Idema.

“It’s a big space,” Idema said. “It adds a tool for a specific segment, but we want to continue to activate it across the market. Kustomer, which has more than 200 employees, works best with businesses that need 20 to 100 customer service agents, Idema added.

Facebook did not disclose the terms of the acquisition and a company spokesperson declined to comment. The value was reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

Kustomer was advised on the case by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Veronica J. Snell