Intercom, a customer communication startup out of San Francisco, announced Thursday they had raised $50 million from Index Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Social Capital and ICONIQ Capital.
Their main products are a live chat function and marketing automation. The live chat is likely familiar to anyone who has been offered immediate customer service via a chat box in the bottom corner of an online store. Intercom’s own website greets visitors with it.
But it can also be built out to take up a full column of the page to reveal a longer chat. The chat function links into a lead-tracking database, and they produce customer support and feedback products.
“We’ve been really fortunate at Intercom that our core focus on product continues to pay off,” said Intercom Co-Founder and CEO Eoghan McCabe in a statement to the press.
A chatty sector
Intercom is not by any means the only company in the business. Others producing customer chat boxes include, well, Chatbox, LiveChat, Kayako, BoldChat, Snapengage, LiveHelpNow, Banckle Chat, Verishow, Zopim, Y Combinator-sponsored Olark and LivePerson, which is backed by NBC Universal and Dell. All these companies are across the spectrum in terms of size. Chatbox raised $2.1 million for itself in December, while LivePerson is an industry titan with several multimillion-dollar acquisitions to its name.
While Intercom’s chat function sometimes annoys customers more than it helps, plenty of people are on board. Hearkening back to a survey done by the above-mentioned competitor BoldChat in 2012, around 20% of customers preferred chat over speaking to customer service representatives on the phone.
They have doubled their client numbers to 10,000 over the last 12 months, now servicing more than 90 countries. Intercom says their services reach some 500 million visitors to e-commerce sites. They name companies like Rackspace, IBM, MOZ, Talkdesk, Ancestry.com, Yahoo!, Hootsuite, Typeform, Acorns, Expensify and Trunk Club among their customers.
“Unlike conventional software companies, the strength of our technology has generated incredible organic revenue growth, meaning we don’t have to pump a ton of capital into sales and marketing,” McCabe added. “We can continue to focus on building product to help businesses communicate with their customers in a more personal way.”
Founded in 2011, Intercom leverages a business friendly angle: It purports that it reinvests 85% of its revenue back into R&D, where half its 250-strong staff operates.