Facebook could be snapping up another startup as part of its e-commerce push. The Wall Street Journal reported today that the social networking giant is close to acquiring Kustomer, a software startup that provides chatbot support for customer service.
Although the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, the report claims that Kustomer could be valued at a little more than $1 billion if the acquisition materializes, citing sources familiar with the deal. Last year, the startup was valued at $710 million in a private financing round.
Kustomer is nothing new to Facebook's ecosystem. In October, the firm unveiled its integration with Instagram to allow businesses to reply to direct messages, @mentions, and Stories directly from its customer service platform. As part of that partnership, Kustomer also provides a way for companies to see Instagram messaging in a single view, as well as view customer interactions and conversations across multiple platforms. In addition, it has been helping businesses to automatically answer customer queries sent via Facebook Messenger.
Facebook's latest move, if successful, will help boost its push in the social commerce space, an effort that kicked off earlier this year with the launch of Facebook Shops. In August, that effort expanded to the U.S. to provide small businesses a platform to bring their products to Facebook and Instagram's communities. It's interesting to see how Kustomer's platform will figure in that initiative when the acquisition is finalized.
Update: Facebook has confirmed that it has reached an agreement to buy Kustomer. Co-founders Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, along with the entire Kustomer team, will be joining Facebook as part of the deal.
Source: The Wall Street Journal (Paywall)