Freshdesk owner Freshworks acquires Joe Hukum as it plans a move into chatbots

After raising $55 million last year to build its business beyond its existing help desk services, today Freshworks (the parent company of Freshdesk) has made an acquisition to help it fill out that strategy. The company has acquired Joe Hukum, a startup out of India that offers a platform for businesses to build their own chatbots.

I’ve asked, but the companies are not revealing any terms of the deal. Joe Hukum, formerly known as Speedy, was originally focused more on building its own personal assistant / concierge app to help people order goods and services before pivoting to present the service as a platform for building bots for other businesses.

“Joe Hukum” is a reference to its pre-pivot incarnation: it is a phonetic transliteration of a Hindi phrase that translates as “as you wish.”

This is Freshworks’ eighth acquisition in two years, and comes in a small series of acquisitions it has made in the area of artificial intelligence, specifically natural language processing: the other two acquisitions were of Chatimity and Frilp. Freshworks said it will use the tech and talent from the three startups to launch chatbot-powered solutions.

Specifically, Joe Hukum’s knowledge tree coding has been built to automates sales, service and support workflows, and so the team from the startup — led by co-founders Arihant Jain, Ajeet Kushwaha and Rahul Agarwal — will be building bots on top of existing Freshworks products.

The deal underscores the continuing interest in chatbots that we’re seeing from the world of customer support: companies are looking for more efficient and less expensive ways to provide basic information and help to their customers, and many have their sights set on chatbots as a viable solution, notwithstanding that a lot of what is being built right now still in its very early stages.

“We are seeing strong interest from our customers on how they want to leverage chatbots as they are looking for new ways to engage with customers on their web and mobile channels,” said Girish Mathrubootham, Founder and CEO of Freshworks, in a statement. “As customer preferences shift from traditional phone tree based call center support, chatbots offer a new support experience, while essentially solving for the age old challenge of triaging customer inquiries and routing that to the right support agent. These are still early days for chatbots, but Joe Hukum’s innovative team and technology will help our clients better engage and support their customers.”

Freshworks cites research from Gartner that predicts that by 2019, 40 percent of enterprises will be using natural-language chatbots both for communications within the business (think Slack-style bots) and with the outside world.

That is where Freshworks hopes it could have an opportunity. The company currently has around 100,000 companies using Freshdesk, giving it a decent base from which to start selling new services like these bots.

“Being a part of Freshworks is super exciting for all of us as it gives us a platform that provides us scale and reach and impact hundreds of thousands of customers,” said Joe Hukum’s Jain in a statement.

Updated with correct meaning for NLP.