Gupshup nabs $240M to power messaging channels


Conversational messaging platform Gupshup today announced that it raised $240 million led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from Fidelity Management, Think Investments, Malabar Investments, Harbor Spring Capital, and others. The tranche, which values the company at $1.64 billion, will be used to build new tools, infrastructure, and services while expanding Gupshup’s global reach, CEO Beerud Sheth said.

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Dixa nabs $105M to unify customer service channels


Dixa, a startup developing conversational customer engagement software, today announced that it raised $105 million in a series C funding round led by General Atlantic, with participation from Notion Capital and Project A. CEO Mads Fosselius says that the proceeds will be put toward product development, new acquisitions following Dixa’s purchase of Melbourne-based Elevio in January, and quadrupling Dixa’s engineering team by the end of 2022.

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Orum raises $25M to automate outbound sales workflows


Sales support platform Orum today announced that it closed a $25 million series A funding round led by Craft Ventures, with participation from several existing backers. The funding brings the company’s total raised to $29 million at a $125 million valuation, and cofounder and CEO Jason Dorfman says the round will be put toward general expansion, mostly focused on product, customer service, and international market expansion.

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81% of employees say AI improves their job performance and they want more

Group of People Standing

New research published by SnapLogic, provider of the Intelligent Integration Platform, has found that 81% of employees believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) improves their overall performance at work. As a result, more than two-thirds (68%) are calling on their employers to deploy more AI-based technology to help them execute their daily work better and faster.
According to IDC, global spending on AI technologies reached $50.1 billion in 2020, a figure that is expected to double in the next four years. So it’s no surprise that AI is transforming the workplace as a result. But while employees were initially skeptical of this technology, new data suggests perception is shifting. This new study, conducted across the US and UK, sought to understand how workers across various lines of business – from HR to Finance to Marketing, and more – feel about working with AI technologies today.

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Currently, more than half (56%) of office workers say they are using AI as a part of their daily job responsibilities. The research indicates that the potential for AI’s impact is much broader, however, as 89% believe AI could support them in up to half of their everyday work activities.
Where do employees believe AI can assist them the most? The top three tasks identified all involved moving, accessing, or analyzing data. These were, in order: understanding data and how trends and patterns can aid decision making; moving data from one place to another; and accessing data residing in different places across the business.
When asked about the benefits of AI in the workplace, 61% said it helped them have a more efficient and productive work day. Additionally, almost half (49%) felt that it improved their decision-making and accelerated time-to-insights. What’s more, just over half (51%) believe that AI in the workplace helps them achieve a better work/life balance due to the aforementioned productivity boost.
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“In recent years, there was concern among office workers that AI would drive job losses, but employee opinions seem to have changed. The more they’ve been exposed to AI and see it in action, the more they’ve realized how much it can assist them with their daily work,” said Craig Stewart, CTO at SnapLogic. “As AI is increasingly used to make better decisions and rack up productivity gains, they’ve gone from tentatively accepting to fully embracing AI. The fact that they are now calling on their leaders to accelerate AI technology adoption in the enterprise is a real sea-change.”
The research also took a look at the growing market for personal AI applications versus those used at work. The workplace appears to be the proving ground for the use of AI, with 45% downloading AI-driven apps for their use at work, compared with just 26% who had downloaded AI-driven apps for personal use. As employees get comfortable with AI at work, perhaps they will more fully embrace it at home as well, closing the current gap.
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BlueOcean raises $15M to measure brand sentiment with AI

Blue Ocean

BlueOcean, a software-as-a-service platform that taps AI to deliver brand strategy insights, today announced that it closed a $15 million series A round led by Insight Partners. The company says that the funds will be used to grow its  team, deepen existing investments in AI, and build on BlueOcean’s existing customer base.

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Where is the ROI in Artificial Intelligence deployments?

Miniature robots

Anyone with any doubts about the interest in AI and its use across enterprise technologies only needs to look at the example of the Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) market and the kind of verticals that are investing in it to quash those doubts. According to the Everest Group’s recently published report, Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) State of the Market Report 2021 (purchase required) the market for this segment alone is estimated at $700-750 million in 2020 and expected to grow at a rate of 55-65% over the next year. 

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Native Voice nabs $14M to convert devices into branded voice assistants

Native Voice

Native Voice, a startup developing an SDK for audio device manufacturers to integrate third-party voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, today announced that it closed a $14 million seed round led by Gutbrain Ventures, PBJ Capital, Signal Peak Ventures with participation from Revel Partners, Ideaship, TechNexus, and others. According to CEO John Goscha, the proceeds will be used to propel the company onto more devices, expand its suite of voice services, and prove and scale its go-to-market model.

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Teikametrics raises $40M to optimize ecommerce listings


Teikametrics, an ecommerce optimization platform, today announced that it raised $40 million in a series B round led by Intel Capital, GoDaddy, Centana Growth Partners, Jump Capital, Granite Point Capital, and Lydia Jett, head of ecommerce at SoftBank Vision Fund. CEO Alasdair McLean-Foreman says that the proceeds will be put toward hiring software engineers, data scientists, and ecommerce experts in addition to sales and marketing support as Teikametrics’ platform scales up.

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Kenya’s AIfluence closes $1M for its AI-powered influencer marketing platform


Influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing and one of the most impactful media channels today. There’s a growing ad-blocking movement and key demographics are spending less time in front of TVs.
Marketers have now realized that their customers trust the recommendations of people they relate with. However, despite this being an impactful channel, brand teams globally face a major dilemma: determining the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns.
AIfluence is a two-year-old startup with an AI-driven influencer marketing approach to measuring these campaigns. Today, the company is announcing that it has raised $1 million in seed investment led by Dubai-based EQ2 Ventures. Other investors include Antler East Africa, Oui Capital, ArabyAds, and an unnamed European family office.
AIfluence was founded by Nelson Aseka, George Issaias, Lamusia Anzaya, and Ankit Jindal in 2019. Placing AI at the core of the product, the founders started AIfluence to accurately match influencers to brands, run end to end influencer marketing campaigns, and bring transparency to the measurement of impact (ROI)
According to CEO Aseka, AIfluence is developed for an audience-first approach. It identifies and gains deep insights into a target audience and works backwards to identify influencers that impact this target audience. The platform is built on a trust network model where it deploys thousands of nano influencers and followers who have a natural affinity to a brand and exhibit a high emotional connection with the target audience.
“We are at the cusp of a revolution. Globally the way marketing works is changing. We find ourselves at an intersection of advanced technology and the fastest-growing region in the world in terms of digital and social media penetration. It’s an exciting place to be. Africa’s rich tradition for storytelling is alive and kicking,” Aseka said in a statement. “We simply enable such stories to be shared between peers who know and trust each other, and can place our brand messages into the heart of this communication ecosystem.”
The platform was launched out of company builder and VC firm Antler East Africa in late 2019 as one of its first cohorts before officially going live in April 2020. Antler is known for bringing together professionals with, on average, 10 years of experience in their respective industries to start companies. That is the case with AIfluence, where its C-level executives have varying experiences in influencer marketing, growing brands, and consumer tech products.

AIfluence is the first startup from the builder to have raised up to $1 million. “We‌ ‌are‌ ‌excited‌ ‌to‌ ‌see‌ ‌local‌ ‌founders‌ ‌with‌ ‌deep‌ ‌expertise‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌African‌ ‌market‌ ‌take‌ ‌a‌ ‌global‌ ‌problem‌ ‌head-on,‌ ‌and‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌short‌ ‌time‌ ‌demonstrate‌ ‌a‌ ‌tech‌ ‌solution‌ ‌that‌ ‌is‌ ‌fast‌ ‌attracting‌ ‌demand‌ ‌in‌ ‌Africa‌ ‌and‌ ‌beyond,”‌  Antler‌ ‌East‌ ‌Africa’s‌ ‌partner‌ Melalite‌ ‌Ayenew ‌said in a statement.
Talking about tackling a global problem, AIfluence says it is currently running campaigns for clients across 13 countries in African and Asia. These clients are regional and global advertisers that span across FMCG, banking, travel and electronics sectors. Aseka says Alfluence has closed over $1 million in contracts from these clients.
AIfluence makes money by running brand campaigns that drive awareness of products and services, and lead generation and conversion campaigns that drive sales. The company is currently working on a SaaS offering it says will “lace the power of the platform in the hands of its customers.”
A major challenge the company has had, Aseka describes, is identifying robust payments solutions to cater to its thousands of influencers across different regions. However, it is in the past now. “Fortunately, we have so far been able to solve this by identifying a reliable payment partner, who we will grow with as we expand across new markets,” he said.
These markets include the rest of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. With the recently raised investment, AIfluence plans to launch into these markets by the end of the year and invest in its tech and SaaS platform.
“People are the new media in today’s digital world, and AIfluence is uniquely positioned to turn this reality into tangible results for advertisers. We’ve been impressed by the team’s obsession to use data in order to spread authentic and relevant messages to the right audience. This is what advertising should always be. We’re looking forward to AIfluence’s journey ahead,”  CEO of EQ2 Ventures Patrick Thiriet CEO said in a statement.

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Endgame raises $12.5M to flag sales opportunities


Endgame, a self-described customer observability platform, today announced it has raised $12.5 million in a funding round, with contributions from Naomi Ionita, Menlo Ventures, Kara Nortman, Upfront Ventures, Sandhya Hedge, and Unusual Ventures. CEO Alex Bilmes said the funds, which bring the company’s total raised to $17 million, will be used to grow the team and invest in R&D.

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Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes on machines

AI Simulation

Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes on machines. AI systems work by using labeled data, analysing the data for patterns and using these patterns to make predictions about future or about interests of a prospective customer. Examples of AI are chatbots, image recognition tools, voice recognition tools etc. AI programming focuses on acquiring data and creating rules about the data.

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Intellimize raises $30M to optimize websites with AI


Intellimize, a startup aiming to help marketers drive conversions by personalizing websites, today announced that it raised $30 million in series B funding led by Cobalt Capital, with participation from Addition, Amplify Partners, Homebrew, and Precursor Ventures. CEO Guy Yalif says that the proceeds, which bring the company’s total raised to over $50 million, will be put toward expanding Intellimize’s engineering and customer-facing teams.

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[Review] Bilbi Analytics Tools for Marketers

Bilbi Analytics

Marketers are on a continual journey towards perfection — what keeps them on this path is the fact that perfection is like the holy grail. It might exist in some form, but we’re incredibly unlikely to reach or find it. As soon as an ad campaign is perfected in every regard, the market changes and we’re on the hunt once again.

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Researchers develop algorithm to identify well-liked brands


Measuring sentiment can provide a snapshot of how customers feel about companies, products, or services. It’s important for organizations to be aware: 86% of people say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support. In an Edelman survey, 8% of consumers [SHOULD THAT BE 80%?] said that they need to be able to trust a brand in order to buy products from them.

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Man and the machine in digital dialogue: the Conversational AI conundrum in Marketing

Conversational AI

Language is the mark of humanity and cognizance, and conversation or dialogue is the most fundamental and a distinctive field of language. As we use more natural interfaces with technology, like language, our relationship is shifting to one where we increasingly humanize them.

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Multichannel marketing platform Iterable raises $200M


erable, a cross-channel platform for customer experiences, today announced the close of a $200 million series E that values the company at $2 billion post-money. Iterable says the funds will be spent on hiring, marketing, and R&D initiatives, with an eye toward geographic expansion.

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Lidl’s Social Media Campaigns — a Masterclass in AI Marketing


With social interactions becoming increasingly digital, companies have been given the opportunity to capture sentiment, identify trends, and mine opinions from a vast array of often publicly available information. Social media enables companies to implement a global approach to communication, interacting with consumers from various parts of the globe simultaneously. This leads to a new set of challenges — ethical, technical, and sometimes even financial.

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SugarCRM sweetens predictive AI engine for marketing automation

Customer market automation

SugarCRM tweaked its SugarPredict AI engine this month to help marketing teams with automated, predictive lead scoring. The cloud-based marketing automation software, first released as a sales tool for customer relationship management (CRM), now also facilitates “rapid and reliable marketing lead qualification and prioritization.

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