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Conversational messaging platform Gupshup today announced that it raised $240 million led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from Fidelity Management, Think Investments, Malabar Investments, Harbor Spring Capital, and others. The tranche, which values the company at $1.64 billion, will be used to build new tools, infrastructure, and services while expanding Gupshup’s global reach, CEO Beerud Sheth said.
The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation for enterprises, in some cases driving the need for messaging services. Offline businesses are moving online while online businesses are offering more products, and both are looking for tools to better engage customers. Thirty-six percent of consumers report using online live chat, according to a GetApp survey. And a majority say they’d much prefer to use messaging versus phone channels if given the choice.
Gupshup, which was founded in 2014, provides a chatbot authoring service that allows developers to create, deploy, and publish chatbots across over 30 channels. Prior to starting the company, Sheth launched the freelancing platform Upwork, which went public on Nasdaq in October 2018.
“Gupshup was early to see the power of text messaging to deliver content ubiquitously to every mobile user worldwide. [It] builds platforms and tools to help enterprises do better customer engagement through conversational experiences delivered via messaging channels,” Sheth told VentureBeat via email. “Just as every business had to build websites in the mid-’90s, they will now have to build conversational experiences. This is the new digital storefront — this is where the users are and business have to engage them on their terms in their favorite messaging apps.”
Powering enterprise messaging
Apart from supporting messaging channels like SMS and WhatsApp, Gupshup offers Gupshup GIP, an IP-based service for smartphones that features end-to-end encrypted messages with buttons, ecommerce flows, and mini games. It comes in two flavors: GIP Native, which embeds in native messaging apps, and GIP Widget, a device-agnostic chat widget.
Gupshup also offers AI models for message categorization and natural language processing. On-device models read incoming messages and classify them into categories and subcategories like “transactional,” “banking,” and “credit alert,” creating visualizations for elements in the message including receipt amounts, account numbers, and codes. Meanwhile, server-side models interpret customer queries sent to chatbots, enabling the chatbots to detect the intent behind messages and respond appropriately.
“Thousands of developers and enterprises use the Gupshup bot platform to build [AI-powered] chatbots for their respective use cases,” Sheth said. “The models were trained using sample text messages across many variations. This technology is deployed in over 100 million smartphones.”
Gupshup claims to support over 100,000 developers and enterprises, delivering messages to over 300 million users. India and other “mobile-first” ecosystems remain some of the company’s largest markets, but Gupshup’s customer base has expanded during the pandemic, with annual recurring revenue hitting $150 million at the end of 2020.
“We saw over 80% growth from pre-pandemic levels,” Sheth said. “Through these chat conversations, businesses [are realizing that they can drive] drive marketing, sales, support and more … With conversational experiences, a customer could simply interact through text chat with a bank rather than calling a call center … Through the same chat conversation, the business can upsell or cross-sell — a new credit card, for instance — and sign the customer for personalized marketing alerts in the future. For the business, it delivers greater customer satisfaction, greater sales, and lower costs through automation.”
The latest funding round brings Gupshup’s total raised to over $390 million.
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