MessageBird, the ‘omnichannel platform-as-a-service,’ raises $200M Series C at $3B valuation

MessageBird, the Amsterdam-headquartered cloud communications company, has raised $200 million in Series C funding in a round led by Silicon Valley’s Spark Capital.

The new investment gives 2011-founded MessageBird a whopping $3 billion valuation, and includes participation from Bonnier, Glynn Capital, LGT Lightstone, Longbow, Mousse Partners and NewView Capital. Existing investors Accel, Atomico and Y Combinator also followed on.

Notably, MessageBird spent its first six years largely bootstrapped, claiming to have been profitable from day one. Aside from going through YC’s accelerator programme, the company’s first institutional investment came in late 2017 when it raised $60 million in Series A funding from U.S.-based Accel and Europe’s Atomico. TechCrunch understands that off the back of accelerated growth, a $40 million Series B was quietly closed in February 2019 from existing investors, but never announced.

Originally seen as a European or “rest of the world” competitor to U.S.-based Twilio — offering a cloud communications platform that supports voice, video and text capabilities all wrapped up in an API — MessageBird has since repositioned itself as an “Omnichannel Platform-as-a-Service” (OPaaS). The idea is to easily enable enterprises and medium and smaller-sized companies to communicate with customers on any channel of their choosing.

Out of the box, this includes support for WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, Twitter, Line, Telegram, SMS, email and voice. Customers can start online and then move their support request or query over to a more convenient channel, such as their favourite mobile messaging app, which, of course, can go with them. It’s all part of MessageBird founder and CEO Robert Vis’ big bet that the future of customer interactions is omni-channel.

“People think of live chat as a ‘live’ channel, but [there’s] no ability to jump to other channels,” Vis told me in June when the company launched its omni-channel chat widget and Intercom competitor. “People still have to wait with a browser window open for a response during peak times. With the launch of the first-ever omni-channel widget, customers can now opt to have a business get back to them on WhatsApp, Messenger or the messaging platform of their choice. This means no more customers waiting in line, online, and agents don’t get flooded with tickets and can better manage customer relationships and response times”.

In a call earlier this week, Vis told me that the Series C was raised remotely during lockdown, and comes at a time when enterprises are increasingly looking for “messaging-first” customer communication tools across channels. In part, he puts this down to the coronavirus trend of companies wanting to move their sales and customer service fully remote and online, but concedes that with enterprise sales cycles typically quite long, in many instances this expedited digitisation was already underway.

MessageBird says one-third of its 15,000 customers have now transitioned to using its omnichannel cloud communications products. The company is on track to do €300 million in annual revenue. Customers include Lufthansa Airlines, Heineken, Hugo Boss, Rituals Cosmetics and SAP, as well as fast-growing brands such as Uber, Glovo, HelloFresh and Deliveroo.

To that end, MessageBird says the funding will be used to triple the size of its global team and further expand into its core markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Vis doesn’t rule out M&A activity, either, including both acqui-hires and companies with products or technology that can add value to MessageBird’s omni-channel offering.

One area the company is bolstering, for example, is the automation capabilities of its “Flow Builder” software, which aims to let customer service agents automate a portion of customer queries via AI-powered chatbots and FAQ bots. The bigger vision is that Flow Builder evolves to become an RPA (robotic process automation) platform for external business messaging.

Vis also says that MessageBird is now officially a “work from anywhere” company, even though he was initially slightly skeptical toward remote working. Now a full convert, he says in many instances at MessageBird the option to work remotely has already resulted in increased productivity and a better work-life balance. As the company continues to expand (and with an eye on a future IPO), he also says that being remote-first should help with recruitment, citing talent as any fast-growing company’s biggest challenge.