Hootsuite Buys Conversational AI Startup Heyday for $48M
Social media management platform Hootsuite has purchased conversational AI startup Heyday for about $48 million ($60 million Canadian). Hootsuite plans to integrate Heyday’s conversational AI into its e-commerce and customer service products via social media.
Hootsuite’s platform helps brands and businesses coordinate and run all of their social media from a central control panel. That includes handling sales and customer interactions. Heyday’s AI-powered chat and video help online brands engage in selling goods and services online. Hootsuite has been grappling with a spike in social media usage since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, with 4.2 billion active users spending an average of 145 minutes a day on the various platforms. Augmenting Hootsuite’s platform with Heyday’s conversational AI will enable Hootsuite’s clients to create AI avatars that can respond to customer messages as they come in, giving real-time service and answers to questions and requests without overloading the human staff. The companies can leverage Heyday to personalize their responses to customers no matter what time they come in.
“Social is the new interface of commerce and customer care. Modern day brands have to manage a multitude of daily interactions and conversations at scale—which is impossible to do without AI automation. With the acquisition of Heyday, Hootsuite will now give AI capabilities to marketing, sales and support teams globally so they can deliver exceptional experiences at scale,” Hootsuite CEO Tom Keiser said. “Hootsuite believes in the power of personalized marketing and frictionless customer experiences that build trust and relevance. The new generation of shoppers want to engage with brands by making purchases and receiving real-time customer service on social. The relationship starts and ends on social, so we’re excited to offer brands a better way to deliver successful customer experiences at scale.”
Heyday is a potentially powerful addition to Hootsuite’s growing stable of digital customer support tools. Earlier this year, Hootsuite acquired Sparkcentral, adding its virtual agents and automated messaging to the services available to Hootsuite clients. As Hootsuite has raised almost $300 million from investors, the speed of acquiring tech is likely worth the trade-off of not developing it in-house. Heyday, which has raised $6.7 million previously, will bring both its tech and its 78-person team to Hootsuite.
The acquisition fits the recent trends of conversational AI startups getting snapped up, especially for commerce and finance purposes. For instance, international finance tech developer Remitly picked up conversational AI startup Jargon in May, while Zoom bought digital contact center Five9 for $14.7 billion just last month. And investors are keen to be involved in getting AI to commerce and customer service centers, dropping huge checks in the laps of startups that aren’t acquired, like the $100 million raised by Dialpad, Observe.AI’s $54 million, Uniphore’s $140 million funding round and the $120 million raised by ASAPP this spring.
“Social media and messaging have become two sides of the same coin: acting both as the new storefront and helpdesk of the digital-first customer journey. A new generation of shoppers now seeks to engage with brands, make purchases and receive real-time customer service via these channels,” Heyday co-founder Etienne Mérineau wrote in a blog post about the deal. “Relationships start and end on social, so brands need a complete solution to delight their customers and turn engagement into lasting relationships and revenue.”