Early chatbot believers Howdy and Bot Metrics join forces to deliver on the promise of bots

Two of the largest communities for chatbot developers are joining forces with the belief that bots are only just getting started.

Howdy, a company backed by Bloomberg Beta and Slack among others, announced that it has acquired Bot Metrics, a year-old company funded by Social Capital and Graph Ventures.

The deal is undisclosed, and it will see Bot Metrics founders Arun Thampi and Sandeep Chivukula join Texas-based Howdy while the companies’ services are integrated. Beyond that, it isn’t clear whether the duo will remain with the company.

Both startups specialize in helping companies and developers create and market bots. There are similarities in how they go about that. Each offers an open source platform for developing bots, and then value-added services that cater to more advanced use cases for a price. Together, they claim to have processed more than 500 million customer interactions.

In Howdy’s case it offers the tools to “supercharge” a bot through a great selection of services. Bot Metrics — as the name suggests — provides software to track interactions and collect data to improve the bot experience for end users.

Following the deal, the two companies’ services will continue to run independently, but Howdy is working to integrate Bot Metrics’ paid-for services into Botkit Studio, its suite of services.

“Botkit is most popular tool for building bots right now, but what we’ve heard [from customers] is the they need the full functionality to operate,” Ben Brown, CEO of Howdy, told TechCrunch in an interview. “We had a big chunk of those services, but Bot Metrics basically had the other half of what our customers need.”

The introduction of bots last year was billed as a ‘revolution’ that could be on par with the launch of the App Store. Facebook was among the tech giants to lead the charge into the space, but the emerging platform hasn’t delivered quite as expected. That said, both Howdy and Bot Metrics say they found fertile ground for their respective businesses, particularly in the enterprise space.

“There was a lot of hype around bots solving every problem in the consumer space, but it turns out a better usage is solving information problem in the enterprise space,” Bot Metrics co-founder Sandeep Chivukula said.

“You look at Slack, Cisco Spark, Microsoft Teams and other services — in enterprise more and more content is create via conversational interfaces and people want to access that data in same interface,” he further explained.

“We’ve seen consistent growth in enterprise, where we are primarily focused, and the consumer space,” Brown said. “We didn’t have the knock-it-out-of-the-park amazing bot everyone can name, but Ii see a world filled with 10,000s/100,000s of bots that didn’t exist a year ago.”

The Howdy CEO added that the company is working to introduce new services beyond this integration, including support for adding bots to web pages and hosting them inside private messaging channels.

“The venue for bots can’t just be Facebook or Slack, it has to be everywhere,” he said.

Howdy raised $1.5 million in October 2015, and Brown said that it has begun to explore new funding options.