Salesforce Acquires Israeli Conversational AI Company Bonobo for $45 Million
Pitchbook data shows that Bonobo, an Israel-based conversational AI startup, has been acquired by Salesforce for $45 million. The company had previously raised $4.5 million from G20 Ventures and Capri Ventures just six months ago. Bonobo was founded in 2017 and participated in an Oracle accelerator in August of that year. The Times of Israel reported:
“The Tel Aviv -ased firm was co-founded in 2017 by Barak Goldstein, Efrat Rapoport, Idan Tsitiat and Ohad Hen, who assembled a team of alumni from elite IDF technological units, specializing in AI.”
Israel-based voice and conversational AI startups are having a good 2019 so far for financing activities. Verbit raised $23 million in January, Voiceitt closed a $5.75 million seed round in February, and Audiobust closed a $10 million round last month. Bonobo’s $45 million acquisition looks like a continuation of a voice technology innovation trend in Israel and is sure to attract additional attention.
Salesforce is Making a Big Commitment to AI
Salesforce vice president of engineering Elad Donsky spoke with Calcalist confirming the acquisition. Calcalist characterized Donsky’s comments in an interview that the acquisition “came about due to Salesforce’s interest in managing and analyzing the interaction of customers with clients across all channels, including audio.” A blog post on Bonobo’s website added, “Bonobo AI enables companies to analyze customer interactions, empowering sales teams to spot trends, improve conversations and drive customer success. Bonobo AI will enhance the power of Salesforce Sales Cloud by leveraging conversational intelligence within the Salesforce Platform, allowing companies to utilize one of their most valuable sources of data – customer interactions.”
For Salesforce, Bonobo may be another piece of the Einstein puzzle. The company is working on its Einstein assistant that was first announced in 2016 but hasn’t yet emerged as a standard product. To learn more about Einstein, customers must still submit a form to schedule a private conversation with a sales rep. This is not to say the Einstein-classified AI services don’t yet exist, but the assistant itself is yet to emerge. Salesforce made an even bigger AI-funding splash in 2017 when it led a $117 million funding round for i.am+, the developer of the Omega voice assistant.