Salesforce Buys Customer Service SaaS Assistly For $50M To Reach Small Businesses

Salesforce has just bought social customer service SaaS startup Assistly. The purchase price is $50 million, and the deal is all-cash.

Assistly helps companies collect and organize all of their customer conversations into a prioritized actionable list and equips support staff with the tools to respond to customers. The application allows businesses to filter conversations, access customer histories, automate processes and even tap into social media conversations on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. And Assistly provides users with key metrics and analytics, such as case volume, interaction volume by channel, response time, service levels, agent performance and more.

Update: TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington is reporting that the acquisition price is $50 million, plus an additional $30 million in deferred payments over two years for a total of $80 million.

Assistly and Salesforce already had a previous relationship. Salesforce made a strategic investment in Assistly. And the startup recently launched an app on the AppExchange that allows sales and support teams see data, like customer contact info and status while working on cases direct from Salesforce.

Assistly, which only launched to the public last September, offers companies an option of paying for total usage instead of seats, so people can jump in occasionally and only be billed for time spent on the platform. This is especially ideas for small to medium sized businesses. The company is backed by Bullpen Capital, Index Ventures, Kenny Van Zant, True Ventures and Social Leverage and is used Instagram, Klout, One Kings Lane, Spotify and Square.

The startup was founded by Alex Bard, Gary Benitt, Jeremy Suriel, and Brad Birnbaum, each of whom previously worked together in building customer service-based companies back in the 90’s. The first, called eShare, was acquired in 1999; the second, called eAssist Global Solutions, was eventually acquired in 2004 after stumbling through the dot com bubble burst. Following the eAssist acquisition three of the team members left the space to start Goowy, a Flash widget maker. The team reunited to develop Assistly in the customer service space.

Salesforce’s CEO and founder Marc Benioff said of the acquisition: Salesforce has spent over a decade democratizing enterprise applications in the cloud…The Assistly acquisition doubles down on that strategy by putting us at the heart of the new trend of customer service help desk applications that have instant sign up and zero-touch onboarding, expanding the potential reach of the Service Cloud to millions of companies around the world.

Salesforce already offers the Service Cloud to companies, which helps businesses connect with customers across both traditional and social channels. But Assistly extends this offering to the small business community, and helps Salesforce reach this audience.

Salesforce recently bought social media monitoring company Radian6 for over $300 million.