CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 11 August 2022

All the latest martech, adtech and CX tech news from Twilio, AppLovin, Unity, Ping Identity, CleverTap, Aisera, Forsta, Klaviyo, Shopify, Omeda, and Cyara.

Twilio suffers security breach

Twilio has engaged with law enforcement and apologised to select customers after a sophisticated social engineering attack occurred across its network, impacting a select number of customer accounts.

The communications management vendor became aware on 4 August 2022 of unauthorised access via a sophisticated social engineering attack designed to steal employee credentials. These were obtained via text messages purporting to come from Twilio’s IT department and linking staff through to a bogus sign-in page. Having gained access to some employee credentials, attackers then gained access to several internal systems and obtained customer data.

“We continue to notify and are working directly with customers who were affected by this incident. We are still early in our investigation, which is ongoing,” Twilio said in a security incident alert dated 10 August 2022. “We worked with the US carriers to shut down the actors and worked with the hosting providers serving the malicious URLs to shut those accounts down. Additionally, the threat actors seemed to have sophisticated abilities to match employee names from sources with their phone numbers.

“We have heard from other companies that they, too, were subject to similar attacks, and have coordinated our response to the threat actors – including collaborating with carriers to stop the malicious messages, as well as their registrars and hosting providers to shut down the malicious URLs. Despite this response, the threat actors have continued to rotate through carriers and hosting providers to resume their attacks.

“Based on these factors, we have reason to believe the threat actors are well-organised, sophisticated and methodical in their actions.”

Twilio said it’s liaised with law enforcement in its efforts, revoked access to the compromised employee accounts to mitigate the attack, implemented mandatory awareness training around security and social engineering attacks, and engaged a forensics firm to aid in its ongoing investigation. Affected customers have also been contacted with the details.

AppLovin cuddles up to Unity

AppLovin has submitted a compelling non-binding proposal to combine its mobile marketing and monetisation offering with Unity Software’s platform for creating and operating 3D content.

The transaction proposed will see each outstanding share of Unity common stock exchanged for 1.152 shares of AppLovin Class A voting common stock and 0.314 shares of AppLovin Class C non-voting common stock. Under these terms, Unity shareholders would receive approximately 55 per cent of the outstanding shares of the combined company, with the Class A shares representing approximately 49 per cent of the outstanding voting rights. The deal would value Unity at $20 billion.

The deal does not, however, include Unity’s proposed acquisition of ironSource for US$4.4bn, and AppLovin has made the deal conditional on this purchase not proceeding.

Together, the companies plan to offer a fully integrated platform for app developers to create, monetise, measure and grow games. Capabilities include real-time 3D creation tools, analytics, user acquisition, attribution and a programmatic ad exchange. They’d operate under the Unity brand.  

They’re also boasting a $35 billion combined market cap and more than $7 billion in estimated run-rate revenue and over $3 billion run-rate adjusted EBITDA by the end of 2024. In addition, the companies estimated synergies of over $700 million in adjusted EBITDA could be achieved in 2025, with a minimum of $500 million in 2024, based on accelerated revenue opportunities, operational efficiencies and scale benefits.

AppLovin’s 2022 guidance forecasts adjusted EBITDA of $1.2 billion, platform revenue of between $1.14bn and $1.29bn and an apps revenue range of $1.70 to $1.85bn.

“Over the last decade, we have built and operated a leading and innovative company in mobile app marketing and monetisation solutions,” said AppLovin CEO, Adam Foroughi. “Unity is one of the world's leading platforms for helping creators turn their inspirations into real-time 3D content. With the scale that comes from unifying our leading solutions and innovation that would be achieved with the combination of our teams, we expect that game developers would be the biggest beneficiaries as they continue to lead the mobile gaming sector to its next chapter of growth.”

Ping Identity acquired by Thoma Bravo for US$2.8 billion

Identity management vendor, Ping Identity, is set to be acquired by software investment firm, Thoma Bravo, in a deal worth US$2.8 billion.

The all-cash transaction includes an offer of $28.50 per share, representing a premium of more than 60 per cent over Ping Identity's closing share price on 2 August 2022, the last full trading day prior to the transaction announcement. The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the Ping Identity board of directors and is expected to close in Q4, 2022, is subject to closing conditions and will see the business return into private hands. The company will remain headquartered in Denver, Colorado.

“Identity security and frictionless user experiences have become essential in the digital-first economy and Ping Identity is better positioned than ever to capitalise on the growing demand from modern enterprises for robust security solutions,” said Ping Identity CEO, Andre Durand. “We are pleased to partner with Thoma Bravo, which has a strong track record of investing in high-growth cloud software security businesses and supporting companies with initiatives to turbocharge innovation and open new markets.”

Ping Identity provides solutions for quickly connecting users to assets and services that use Ping identity solutions, as well as third-party tools, including registration, login, authentication and authorisation.

Aisera secures US$90m investment

Thoma Brava was also in the news this past week for being one of two companies leading fresh investment into the Aisera business.

Goldman Sachs and Thoma Bravo led the latest US$90 million Series D funding round into the artificial intelligence (AI) based service experience platform company, funds earmarked to strengthen its employee and customer experiences offering. The oversubscribed round also included leading investors True Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Icon Ventures, World Innovation Lab (WIL), Zoom Ventures, Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital, Maynard Webb (Webb Investment Network – WIN), Ram Shriram (Sherpalo Ventures), and Silicon Valley Bank.

In a statement, Aisera said the additional funding will further strengthen the position of its AI Service Experience (AISX) platform and accelerate expansion across industry verticals as well as its global growth and go-to-market strategy.

Aisera offers a personalised and predictive AI Service Experience platform incorporating AI Service Desk, AI Customer Service and Ticket AI with Agent-Assist for B2B and B2C organisations. Using AI and machine learning, the Aisera platform focuses on auto-resolving tasks, actions and workflows for IT, HR, customer service, sales and operations. It also has its own natural language understanding and AI knowledge graph-based conversational AI capabilities. The platform integrates with enterprise applications such as ServiceNow, Salesforce, Oracle, Zendesk, Workday, Atlassian and BMC.

Aisera claims to have achieved year-over-year growth of over 300 per cent in the last year and boasts of more than 75 million users. Customers include Grant Thornton, Zoom, Workday, McAfee and Chegg.

“AI has become necessary to support employees in today’s highly inflationary, work-from-anywhere environment and customers who expect to get the help they need expeditiously,” said Aisera founder and CEO, Muddu Sudhakar. “Advances in conversational AI deliver better experiences than traditional support solutions like legacy ITSM and customer support providers.

“With the injection of growth capital from Goldman Sachs and Thoma Bravo, Aisera will be the invisible hand of innovation that enables all users – across all lines of business and industries – to get the support experiences they’ve come to expect without human latency, error or disruption.”

CleverTap Raises US$105m

Another vendor securing the big bucks is CleverTap, which provides a B2B SaaS platform for customer engagement and retention.

The company this week announced definitive agreements to raise US$105 million in a Series D funding round led by CDPQ, a global investment group that has committed US$75m. Other investors include IIFL AMC’s Tech Fund, Tiger Global and Sequoia India. As part of the transaction, CDPQ will join CleverTap’s board of directors.

The funds will be used to support CleverTap’s global expansion and further develop its technology. Founded in Mumbai in 2013 and headquartered in California, CleverTap’s engagement and retention SaaS platform uses machine learning and AI to help brands manage customer relationships. The subscription-based solution has more than 1200 clients in 100 countries representing 10,000 apps.

The investment injection follows completion of CleverTap’s acquisition of San Francisco-based Leanplum, a leading multi-channel customer engagement platform, in June. CleverTap also recently unveiled TesseractDB, a purpose-built database aimed at improving user engagement and retention for digital consumer brands.

“Our vision has been to reshape the way businesses engage with their consumers and bring the tech to martech. The addition of long-term investors CDPQ and IIFL AMC Tech fund to CleverTap’s existing backers, Sequoia India, Accel, Tiger Global and Recruit Holdings is a great endorsement of the successful business we have built, the innovation we bring to the market and the growth potential CleverTap holds,” said co-founder and executive chairman, Sunil Thomas.

“With the new institutional investors coming on-board, we have all that we need to grow at a faster rate while consolidating our position as the global leader in the retention space.”

Forsta acquires crowdsourcing and innovation platform

US-based market research and experience management technology player, Forsta, has acquired HelloIgnite’s crowdsourcing and innovation management technology for an undisclosed sum.

HelloIgnite offers a collaboration platform to collect, share and manage ideas from employees to improve customer experiences and has clients across the FMCG, finance, healthcare and marketing sectors. Forsta plans to integration HelloIgnite’s functionality into it ‘Human Experience’ platform to bolster its customer experience, employee experience and market research solutions. Forsta is also an existing client, utilising HelloIgnite’s approach to foster innovation within its own organisation.

Forsta has offices and talent hubs across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific and was recognised in Gartner’s 2021 Magic Quadrant for Voice of the Customer solutions.

“As active users of HelloIgnite’s crowdsourcing technology, we’re no strangers to the impact that great ideas — stemming from employees across all teams and levels within the organisation — can have on day-to-day business operations,” said Forsta CEO, Kyle Ferguson. “Now, we can seamlessly integrate crowdsourcing tech for our enterprise CX, EX and market research firms globally. By tapping into crowdsourced insights and ideas, current and future Forsta customers will gain new perspectives and valuable thinking on ways to improve the Human Experiences of their audiences.”

Klaviyo and Shopify partner up

Klaviyo has struck a product partnership with Shopify that sees the latter making a strategic investment in Klaviyo to build long-term collaboration between platforms.

Under the latest strategic deal, Klaviyo will serve as the recommended email solution partner for Shopify Plus, a plan for merchants with higher-volume sales that offers additional functionality, scalability and support from Shopify’s base-level offering. In addition, Klaviyo will receive early access to new Shopify development features, helping accelerate technologies for merchants.

Klaviyo’s customer platform unifies customer journey data under one solution and makes this data accessible and actionable to help acquire, delight and retain customers. The software integrates with multiple ecommerce platforms such as Magento, BigCommerce, Stripe, WooCommerce and more than 220 apps. Klaviyo is already available in the Shopify App Store and been part of Shopify’s ecosystem since 2017. Joint customers include Loeffler Randall, Glossier and OSEA.

“Klaviyo has become invaluable to hundreds of thousands of merchants to help them better understand their customers and engage them in highly personalised ways across so many touchpoints. Klaviyo’s success has been astounding, and we’re excited to take this next step in our already robust partnership to make it even easier for Shopify merchants to grow their businesses,” added Shopify president, Harley Finkelstein.

Omeda secures investment from Sverica Capital

Another business gaining extra funding this week is US-based customer data platform (CDP) vendor, Omeda, which secured strategic investment from Sverica, a growth-oriented private equity investment firm. The specific figure was not released.

“We are extremely proud of the company we have built and the transformation we have engineered to make Omeda the full SaaS solution it is today,” said Omeda CEO, Aaron Oberman. “Finding a great partner in Sverica will allow us to accelerate investments in our products, growth, and client experience.”

Oberman will continue to lead the company with COO, James Capo. Sverica managing partner, Jordan Richards, and partner, Ryan Harstad, will join Omeda’s board as part of the transaction. 

Omeda offers a SaaS marketing platform designed to help organisations grow, engage with and monetise their first-party data. Key functionality includes all-in-one subscription management, CDP, and marketing and email automation. The company was founded by Chicago-based trade publishing family, The Obermans, initially for subscriptions segmentation and management.

The business acquired Hallmark Data Systems in 2016, a database and marketing services provider, and sold off its Mozaic digital edition customer base last year to BlueToad in order to focus on its CDP offering. launches DynamicNLP enterprise conversational AI

Conversational AI vendor,, has taken the wrappers off its proprietary DynamicNLP offering, which it claims will enable enterprises to go live with conversational AI in minutes. DynamicNLP is designed to eliminate the process of training and labelling Natural Language Processing (NLP) models manually. This enables dynamic AI agents to learn on the fly, helping enterprises to set up conversational AI flows within minutes while also reducing training data-related costs and efforts.

To do this, DynamicNLP comes with a pre-trained model built using billions of anonymised conversations, which the vendor claims reduces unidentified utterances by up to 60 per cent, making the AI agents more human-like and scalable across industries with wider use-cases.

“ DynamicNLP is… a breakthrough innovation that can help enterprises save time, effort, and operational cost while accelerating their go-live strategy,” co-founder and CEO, Raghu Ravinutala, said. “It enables our pre-trained Dynamic AI agents to deliver superlative moments of truth across the entirety of customers' and employees' life cycles. As global tech innovators, we see our DynamicNLP as a significant step forward in realizing the true potential of NLP as a game-changing technology.”

Cyara releases new chatbot testing capabilities

Australian-based vendor, Cyara, is also debuting its new Botium chatbot and conversational AI testing features for CX testing and assurance this week. The latest capabilities follow Cyara’s acquisition of the Botium business, a move designed to help it solidify its position as a leading CX testing and assurance company.

Cyara Botium’s holistic testing approach is designed to help brands improve and continuously test the customer chatbot experience across all channels and platforms in all phases of the chatbot development lifecycle. To do this, improvements have been made to general chatbot security, along with the ability to scale performance testing through parallel test executions. It’s also ensuring compliance with Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) security standards.

Cyara said Botium’s new AI-powered data and test generation capabilities are built on the world’s largest natural language model in order to improve the efficiency of chatbot teams and generate new intent phrasing to the chatbot in minutes. The new release introduces two new test types for testing bots in the IVR channel as well as voice tests to ensure voicebots perform well in all environments, including mobile devices and browsers.


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