Call center AI firm ASAPP unveils funding as COVID-19 boosts business

(Reuters) – ASAPP, an artificial intelligence software that helps call center agents work better and faster, on Friday announced a $ 185 million series B financing round as the coronavirus pandemic escalates. the volume of the call center at a time when companies are looking to reduce labor costs.

The latest round of financing was carried out in multiple installments beginning in August 2018, from investors, including former CISCO Systems Inc chief executive John Chambers and prominent venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins.

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The last installment of $ 60 million was raised a month ago by existing investors who wanted to provide more capital as they saw business growing with the pandemic, said Gustavo Sapoznik, ASAPP founder and executive director.

A source close to the company said that ASAPP is now valued at more than $ 800 million.

ASAPP software does not replace human call center agents, but it analyzes calls from the most efficient agent at a call center and sends all agents suggestions in real time what to say in response to specific things said by customers. For web chats, he presents the agent with several potential responses that can be sent with a click.

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Sapoznik said ASAPP works mainly with large corporations, such as JetBlue Airways Corp and Dish Network Corp, spending more than a billion dollars on call centers. The pandemic led to many challenges, as calls to these centers exploded at a time when agents needed to work from home, many without the necessary Internet access or equipment. He said he helped attract more customers, but did not share details about new contracts or revenue growth.

"If they really wanted to pressure, they probably could have been a unicorn," said Chambers, who was one of the first investors in three companies that became unicorns, startups valued at $ 1 billion or more, since he stepped down as CEO. from Cisco. in 2017. He said there was no reduction in the evaluation of the last installment.

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While there are other startups developing AI solutions for call centers, Chambers, who sits on the ASAPP board, said the company has strong leadership with 55 AI engineers and Machine Learning with PhDs.

(This story has been reformulated to correct that Gustavo Sapoznik is the founder of ASAPP and not a co-founder)

Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Alistair Bell

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