Customer Communication Startup Intercom Raises $6M Round Led By The Social+Capital Partnership

Intercom, a startup promising to help online businesses communicate with their customers in a more personalized way, has raised a $6 million Series A.

I wrote about the company last month when Facebook’s Paul Adams joined it as its new head of product design. At the time, Adams told me that Intercom’s work matches his own belief that businesses’ interactions with customers have to become more personal and relationship-based.

CEO Eoghan McCabe offered a similar vision this week. “Loyalty is magic,” he argued, recalling that the personal service he received at a friend’s chain of coffee shops meant that he’d walk past competing shops and invite friends to this one.

“It became kind of clear to me that on the web, you don’t really have those relationships,” he said, aside from “a few little outliers like Zappos who have invested heavily in great service.”

In order to enable those kinds of relationships, McCabe said Intercom has a couple of key features. For one thing, he said that businesses usually have to “stitch together” products to run an online help desk, email marketing, customer relationship management, and marketing automation. That’s a flawed approach, because they’re all trying to accomplish the same broad goal — “to provide simple, human service.” So Intercom brings all of that functionality together in one place.

Plus, McCabe said that by adding just a few lines of JavaScript to their site, businesses get a natural way to interact with their customers, not just by sending them marketing emails (which often come in at inconvenient times and are ignored), but also at the moment of greatest relevance — “when they’re inside your product.”

That all sounds appealing, but are businesses really going to become more personal and less spammy just because they have better tools?

“The thing is, no business inherently wants to be spammy,” McCabe said. “It’s shit for business. Even assholes know it’s a dumb thing to do.”

The problem, he said, is that there’s “so much friction in the process that you can’t afford to be very targeted and personal.” Eliminate that friction and businesses can do a better job at this stuff. That’s also why McCabe said most of the new funding will go towards improving the product, while also hiring more people to expand Intercom’s own service team.

The Series A comes from The Social+Capital Partnership, the firm founded by former Facebook vice president Chamath Palihapitiya, with participation from Freestyle Capital and David Sacks, founder and CEO of Yammer. Intercom previously raised $1 million from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, 500 Startups, and others.