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Sendbird secures a $100 million investment to help businesses integrate chat, audio, and video calling into their applications
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Sendbird secures a $100 million investment to help businesses integrate chat, audio, and video calling into their applications 

Sendbird, a messaging, speech, and video chat platform for businesses, has raised $100 million in a series C round of funding, valuing the company at $1.05 billion.

The increase comes at a time as the so API economy is booming, as companies across the board have been pushed to adopt digital transformation, whether by expanding online customer support platforms or expanding into video-based telehealth. The API economy, on the other hand, was on the rise even before the global pandemic, thanks in part to a gradual transition from monolithic on-premises software to the cloud and microservices-based applications. Smaller, function-based modules are easier to build and manage, with individual teams or developers responsible for a single service — and APIs are essential for connecting them all.

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Furthermore, consumers and end-users want to be able to interact with businesses directly via their mobile apps. However, a company that provides an app-based food delivery service, for example, does not want to spend money building their own communications system to allow consumers to chat with their driver it is much simpler if they can use networks that were designed specifically for that purpose. This is where Sendbird approaches.

Sendbird cofounder and CEO John S. Kim told VentureBeat :

“Even before Covid, there has been a shift to more and more of the tasks we accomplish in our lives occurring within mobile apps — online purchases, entertainment, food delivery, and lots of others,”

“Brands are increasingly choosing in-app chat over SMS as the way of connecting with users and connecting users with each other within the mobile and sometimes Web experience. These interactions facilitate purchases, provide support, and build loyalty. This is what’s been driving Sendbird’s growth for the last five years and continues to do so as the shift from offline to online continues.”

MessageBird acquired Pusher to extend its real-time communication APIs; Idera acquired Apilayer, a company that provides cloud-based APIs to big names like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook; and RapidAPI acquired Paw to help developers create, test, and manage APIs. In terms of investment, companies such as MessageBird, Postman, and Kong have all raised huge amounts of money at multi-billion dollar valuations in the last year.

Sendbird, which was established in Korea in 2013, had previously focused on providing chat and messaging services to developers, but in March it expanded to include real-time voice and video calling as well. While companies can choose from a wide range of free existing resources to communicate with clients or consumers, they do not have enough control over the experience, which is why many prefer to build custom solutions in-house.

“Smaller companies typically rely on free services like Zoom or WhatsApp to connect with their customers.But brands who want to control the branding and user experience, get the benefits of the data and analytics, and integrate conversations into a core workflow such as connecting a seller with a buyer who has questions those businesses are going to invest in a great mobile experience and that experience is going to need chat, voice, and video interactions as a core piece.”

Target market

Rather than conventional enterprise clients such as banks or insurance firms, Sendbird’s typical customer is a mobile-first digital business. It has many mobile wallets as clients, including the Indian mega app Paytm. Sendbird does, however, have conventional business clients, such as Korea Telecom and ServiceNow.

Sendbird, a Y Combinator alum, had also raised approximately $121 million in funding, the majority of which came from its series B round of funding, which closed in 2019. Steadfast Capital Ventures led the latest cash infusion, with participation from Emergence Capital, Softbank Vision Fund 2, World Innovation Lab, Iconiq Development, Tiger Global Management, and Meritech Capital. The team intends to use the funds to “aggressively accelerate its R&D efforts” and hire across its key hubs in San Mateo (California), New York, London, Muni, and Seoul.

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