CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 3 November 2022

All the latest martech and adtech news from MoEngage, Freshworks, mParticle, Kibo, Emplifi, Pixlee TurnTo, Anchora, OpenWeb and ShortTok

MoEngage builds A/NZ footprint

Customer engagement platform, MoEngage, has officially established a presence in Australia and New Zealand as it builds its client base locally.

The martech player said having a local footprint was about better serving brands in A/NZ and further developing its partner ecosystem in this region. MoEngage has appointed Michael Ricciardone as country manager A/NZ, an experienced commercial leader with a proven history of leading and managing sales teams across tier-one media agencies and enterprise accounts across this region.

The vendor already has a number of clients in Australia including MyDeal, Jimmy Brings and Nova Entertainment.

The expansion also comes after MoEngage raised US$77 million in Series E funding in June, led by Goldman Sachs and B Capital. The company claims to have grown annualised recurring revenue (ARR) by more than 105 per cent in the last year, added 500 new customers, and doubled headcount to more than 650 globally.

MoEngage’s platform is designed to help brands reach, engage and retain consumers, with a particular focus on companies in the finance, retail, media and health sectors. Functionality includes artificial intelligence (AI)-powered marketing orchestration and an optimisation engine tapping data and insights for customer experience interaction.

“Businesses in Australia are looking for solutions that help lay the foundation for retaining customers and increasing lifetime value, particularly during this climate of rising customer acquisition costs and slowdown in consumer spending. MoEngage’s depth and breadth of customer-centric solutions is a natural fit,” Ricciardone stated.

Freshworks bolsters conversational AI in CX and CRM solutions

Business and customer management vendor, Freshworks, has introduced new native AI capability across its customer experience solutions range.

Freshworks said the enhanced product portfolio is designed to make work easier, more productive and more delightful, with automation that is easy to use and fast to implement. The latest AI functionality is natively built into Freshchat, Freshdesk, Freshsales and Freshmarketer and includes support features to help agents improve response times. There’s also embedded AI to help sales and marketers increase productivity and win more business.

For example, Freshsales and Freshmarketer now have intelligent lead scoring, plus automated capabilities to identify positive and negative buying signals on the Web and in applications, learning from these interactions to provide insights. Within Freshmarketer, users can also now schedule and publish social media posts across channels and analyse their performance within the platform.

With Freshchat, the vendor is now offering smart reply through AI-powered auto-complete responses, which gives dynamic suggestions to agents as they type responses to customers. Intelligent recommendations are tailored to the user’s last message, conversation context and the customer’s past buying behaviour. Email in the Freshchat inbox then allows agents to have personalised omnichannel conversations with customers and allows businesses to configure their support email addresses and bring emails directly into Freshchat.

In addition, the new conversations widget allows support admin teams to use a single widget to power live chat and self-service AI. The conversations widget supports all Freshchat features and use cases.

In Freshdesk, ‘auto triage’ aims to deliver smarter and more accurate AI-powered recommendations that automatically populate ticket fields. It does this by learning off historical ticket data. There are also integrations with Slack and Microsoft Teams from the Freshdesk Customer Success interface.

“Conversational intelligence across sales, marketing and support is the next step companies must take to unify and personalise the customer experience,” said Freshworks chief product officer, Prakash Ramamurthy. “Unlike some legacy vendors, we believe business software should empower people, not frustrate them. Our built-in AI functionality makes it easier than ever and is designed to keep up with customers and employee demands.”

Kibo offloads personalisation business

Omnichannel commerce vendor, Kibo, has confirmed the sale of its personalisation business to private investment firm, Centre Lane Partners.

The new standalone personalisation entity will be branded Monetate, with current chief operating officer of Kibo, Brian Wilson, leading as its chief executive officer. 

Kibo was founded in 2015 and focused on the commerce space. It acquired Monetate and Certona in 2019 as part of ambitions to build out a best-in-class personalisation platform to complement its commerce business.

In a statement, Kibo said the spin-off will give the business a better chance of unlocking the full potential of the personalisation platform. It’s also being pitched as enabling Kibo to pursue a horizontal growth strategy in verticals outside of retail, such as financial services, travel and hospitality, and telecommunications, as well as to further expanding globally.  

“We are extremely excited to partner with Centre Lane on this next chapter of our journey as a leader in personalisation,” said Wilson. “With the power of product recommendations, one-to-one personalisation, personalised search and A/B testing in a single unified personalisation platform, combined with the re-launch of the Monetate brand, we are well positioned to pursue our go-forward growth strategy that will build upon our strong retail footprint while continuing to expand into other markets.”  

Meanwhile, the transaction allows Kibo to focus on its core ecommerce and order management products. The vendor is also looking to become a bigger player in the composable commerce space, integrating with market-leading content management and personalisation platforms. Kibo offers a fully modular, API-first, cloud-native and headless architecture.

“We have lofty goals of continuing to be the market-leading voice in commerce,” said Ram Venkataraman, Kibo’s current chief technology officer, who will now serve as its chief executive officer.   

Kibo and Monetate said they will continue to partner closely to ensure joint clients and prospects remain well serviced. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Emplifi buys Pixlee TurnTo

Also switching owners this week is US-based user-generated content, ratings and reviews platform, Pixlee TurnTo. The company has been acquired by Emplifi, a unified customer experience platform, for an undisclosed sum.

Under the deal, Emplifi will incorporate Pixlee TurnTo’s capabilities across its social marketing, live commerce and customer care workflows as part of its unified CX Cloud platform. Pixlee TurnTo’s solutions are designed to help brands more easily identify the right UGC content, surface highlights from positive reviews, and identify influencers to help deliver deeper engagement, higher conversion rates and increased loyalty.

 “People relate to other people’s experiences. By providing the tools to leverage user-generated content, ratings and reviews and influencer marketing, Emplifi will help brands build authenticity and solve for content at scale,” said Emplifi CEO, Mark Zablan. “We couldn’t be prouder to welcome Pixlee TurnTo to the Emplifi team. By combining our strengths, we will be able to help brands close their customer experience gaps across marketing, commerce and care by amplifying authentic customer voices throughout the entire customer journey.”

Pixlee TurnTo, which is headquartered in San Francisco, has 90 employees and more than 1000 clients including GNC, Alo Yoga, Tumi, Carnival Cruise Lines and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.

The acquisition comes less than a year after Emplifi acquired live commerce software provider, Go Instore. Emplifi’s CX platform is used by more than 7800 brands including Delta Air Lines, Ford Motor Company and McDonald’s.

MParticle announces Warehouse Sync for CDP

Customer data platform (CDP) vendor, mParticle, has expanded its catalogue of data sources to include direct ingestion from data warehouses, beginning with Snowflake.

Warehouse Sync has been designed to allow companies to bring data warehouse information into their CDP to use as part of their personalisation efforts. It does this by enabling traditional reverse-ETL flows with real-time, many-to-many data streams, native identity resolution, integrated privacy and compliance controls, AI-powered predictions, and the ability to build personalised marketing journeys, from a single platform.

Warehouse Sync makes warehouse data available in real-time across mParticle’s 300+ marketing and customer engagement APIs in a highly scalable, many-to-many construct. The aim is to allow users to stitch together the entire customer journey into persistent, stable and real-time 360-degree customer profiles. The CDP platform also includes machine learning models to help with better recommendations, high-fidelity predictions and uplift modelling.

MParticle is initially supporting Snowflake, but will follow this with support for Google BigQuery, Amazon RedShift and Microsoft Azure.

“The cloud data warehouse is an important source of rich customer data which teams need to incorporate into their data strategies,” said mParticle CEO and co-founder, Michael Katz. “The customer data stack and the data engineering stack are beginning to converge, which we believe will unlock new opportunities for teams of all sizes. We're excited to expand our offering with this latest feature.”

Aussie martech consultancy debuts new offerings

Homegrown martech consultancy, Anchora, has taken the wrappers off two product offerings for the Australian market.

The first, Lift (legacy infrastructure fast transition), aims to assists organisations migrating digital marketing activities to the cloud such as Adobe Experience Manager. The second product, Stitch, is designed to help better connect disparate solutions or applications in the martech stack.

Anchora CEO, Luke Evans, said Lift was about ensuring speed and accuracy of the process of migrating to a fully cloud-based environment. The consultancy is claiming the ability for clients to benefit from the cloud 40 to 60 per cent quicker through using its solution.

“During the inevitable digital transformation and cloud migration process, many organisations require a product that ensures the migration happens quickly, cost-effectively, and with the least amount of pain and disruption,” he explained. “Lift offers this specifically for the marketing department who may be using on-premise marketing technology solutions and are moving to a cloud-based platform.”

Anchora’s second product launch, Stitch, is then about uniting siloed functionality and software into one single martech ecosystem for orchestration.

“For example, an organisation may have one team that manages the website, another that manages the marketing automation platforms, a third that manages A/B testing and personalisation, and a fourth and fifth in other areas,” Evans said. “We saw the challenges organisations faced with such siloed ways of working and developed a solution to address it, and Stitch brings these teams together to work as one.”

Anchora’s two products are based on proprietary technology and IP and available now.

OpenWeb raises US$170m

Community engagement platform, OpenWeb, has raised US$170 million in Series F funding in a round led by Georgian, bringing its total valuation to $1.5 billion.

This new financing is earmarked for the company’s continued expansion as it grows from 100 million active monthly users and pursues new publishers, more advertisers, partnerships and applications.

“This investment represents an incredible show of confidence in the mission we have set for ourselves: To combat toxicity and create healthier, open spaces for conversations that move society forward,” said OpenWeb co-founder and CEO, Nadav Shoval. “There is a paradigm shift happening right now in the media, and we have the opportunity to drive major changes in how people communicate with one another in virtual spaces, as well as how publishers and advertisers form and maintain lasting relationships with their audiences.”

OpenWeb’s platform is designed to power end-to-end user experiences with user activation and management, first-party data aggregation and management, AI moderation and social experiences. The company’s proprietary technology is used by publishers globally including The New York Times, Hearst, Yahoo!, Penske Media Corporation and News Corp. Its platform model incentivises engagement and the creation of high-quality content while leveraging and monetising first-party data through advertising.  

The Series F funding follows last November’s Series E round, which raised $150m. OpenWeb plans to further drive innovations for its partners, expand its global presence and explore strategic acquisitions.

Video AI Startup, ShortTok, announces financing

ShortTok, an early-stage software company developing automated visual storytelling technologies, it has secured a financing commitment from Info Edge Ventures, subject to regulatory approvals.

ShortTok said the raise is part of a pre-seed round and will support additional investments in R&D, business development and operations. The US-based startup is developing an automated visual storytelling solution based around short-form video. It plans to partner with content and media companies globally.

“I am honoured to receive this early support from Info Edge Ventures. Given their extensive experience, domain knowledge, and outstanding track record of guiding so many pioneering startups, Info Edge Ventures is an ideal financing partner for ShortTok. I look forward to working closely with Kitty Agarwal and her team as we undertake this exciting journey together", said ShortTok founder and CEO, Vikram Nagrani.

A serial entrepreneur, Nagrani was previously co-founder and CEO of Neonyoyo, a mobile software startup acquired by Interwoven (now part of HP) for US$70 million. ShortTok is headquartered in New York with our technical team in Austin, and is establishing an office in Hyderabad, India.

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