Hootsuite has acquired artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot startup Heyday in a $60 million CAD deal that further expands Hootsuite’s push into e-commerce and customer service software.
Heyday is Hootsuite’s second acquisition this year, following the purchase of automated messaging platform Sparkcentral. That deal marked Hootsuite’s move into customer support through online messaging, while the Heyday acquisition allows Hootsuite to tap into social media-based e-commerce.
“Customer care and social commerce are at the top of our wish list.”
Richard Hungerford, Hootsuite’s vice president of corporate development and strategy, called the two companies “foundational pieces” of Hootsuite’s move into social media-based customer care and e-commerce. He explained Hootsuite is focused on three areas: social marketing (its bread and butter), social customer care, and social commerce.
“We work heavily with our product engineering teams and our exec teams to come up with where’s the space going over the next three years and what are the things that we need to build, and what are the things that we need to go and buy and partner with,’” he said in an interview. “Customer care and social commerce are at the top of our wish list.”
“We feel very lucky and fortunate that we’ve been able to add these two teams to Hootsuite, and fill these massive gaps, really fill these big opportunities, or buckets, that we’re going after,” Hungerford added.
Founded in 2017, Heyday offers a conversational AI platform for retailers. The platform, which can integrate with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google’s Business Messages, is aimed to help sales and support teams improve the customer experience. Its customers include global brands like Lacoste, Decathlon, Danone, Rudsak, and Jack & Jones.
At the beginning of this year, Heyday closed a seed round of financing at $6.5 million CAD, bringing its total funding raised to $8.5 million. Hungerford told BetaKit that Hootsuite began speaking with Heyday about a deal around this time and was intrigued by its chatbot and overall AI capabilities.
“Hootsuite is sitting on this huge data set,” said Hungerford. “There’s so many data points that we can leverage to help our customers do better across marketing care and e-commerce.”
“We created Heyday’s conversational platform to make buying from a brand as easy as messaging a friend,” said Heyday co-founder Steve Desjarlais. “Together with Hootsuite, we will bridge the gap between physical and digital brand experiences by leveraging social and messaging channels as the anchor and golden thread of the customer journey.”
Montréal-based Heyday will continue to service its customers and operate independently, though Hootsuite plans to integrate its chatbot technology and utilize its overall AI for a range of Hootsuite products. Hungerford also said the two companies will work towards closer product integrations over time.
Heyday marks Hootsuite’s 14th acquisition to date. The Heyday and Sparkcentral acquisitions stand out in Hootsuite’s history as they represent new use cases for the social media management company, which has historically focused on selling and marketing on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
It has been a transformational year for Hootsuite, which brought on Tom Keiser, former chief operating officer at San Francisco-based Zendesk, last June. Keiser replaced founder Ryan Holmes, who was at the helm of the social media management company for 12 years. Holmes told BetaKit last year that a big focus for Hootsuite under Keiser is product development.
Hootsuite, which has millions of users and over 200,000 paying customers, is expanding into a space that has brought success to the likes of Canadian customer support software startup Ada. Earlier this year, Ada announced a $130 million USD Series C round that brought its valuation to $1.2 billion after it saw a record year of growth for its AI chatbot amid COVID-19.
Heyday also represents one of few Canadian companies Hootsuite has purchased in its 12-year history, and gives the Vancouver-based company a Montréal office for the first time.
“Social has become so mission-critical for the businesses that we work with,” Hungerford said. “It’s really become the place that our customers are going to discover products, to ask for reviews, to actually go and interact and have a customer care question, and then, ultimately, to buy those products.”
“That evolution is happening really quickly, and these are areas that we can get out in front and have the tools that our customers are looking for,” he added.