Snap, the parent company of Snapchat — a messaging app for millennials, has announced the news of acquiring an Israel-based AI-based voice assistants company — Voca.ai for an estimated $70 million. According to the news, Voca.ai, so far, has raised a mere $6 million from investors like American Express Ventures, lool Ventures, Group 11, and Flint Capital. And, post this acquisition, the company will be integrated into Snap along with its 35 employed people.
According to Voca — seven out of 10 customers still prefer speaking with a human agent; however, Voca offers an AI-based agent natural, human-like conversations that leave the customers wondering if they have spoken to a virtual or human agent. The platform serves as a kind of triage system, which addresses simple inbound queries and then hands over to human agents seamlessly for more complex issues.
Snap’s recent reports have been favourable with 249 million active daily users in the third quarter of 2020 in its Snapchat platform, marking an increase of 11 million users from the second quarter. Being one of the most popular apps in the US, Snapchat works on a clear focus on youth and young adults. Snap was created in 2011 by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown with the key feature being that pictures and messages are usually only available for a short time before they become inaccessible. Earlier this year, Snap also acquired AI Factory, a Ukrainian computer vision and AI-based startup for building Snapchat’s new Cameos animated selfie-based video feature.
Voca.ai’s customers include Toshiba, Amdocs, FirstClass Capital and Boost Health Insurance, among others. It’s not clear what Snap intends to do with Voca.ai, but the deal comes at a very interesting moment, considering all virtual services have seen a big surge this year, amid the pandemic. Although Snap may be acquiring Voca.ai to build better interactions with its own customers, it’s a natural and logical move for the company to consider how it could build more business services into Snapchat, and diversify its own revenues along with that.
In its home page for its business services, the company notes that “People use Snapchat to communicate with friends, build relationships, play and learn. Inspire action with full-screen, digital ads that boost awareness, drive conversions, and generate real results for businesses of all sizes.” It’s not a stretch to think that those business imperatives could also extend to “drive conversations.”
According to the news media, Voca.ai’s platform is particularly relevant in the current market. The company, at the start of the pandemic, got overwhelmed with inbound customer requests, and they have subsequently been looking for cost-effective ways to handle such unexpected volume of calls.