Montreal-based Smooch, which allows companies to manage customer conversations across multiple social messaging and communication platforms, has raised $10 million (CAD) in seed funding. The round was led by Real Ventures and iNovia Capital, with participation from TA Associates and Smooch’s founders.
Today, Koko is announcing a $2.5 million Series A round of financing, as well as the expansion its service to Facebook Messenger and the messaging app Telegram. But Koko's larger strategy is to bring empathy to all the coldhearted chatbots like Alexa, Siri, and Cortana. "We’re working toward providing empathy as a service to any voice or messaging platform," says cofounder Fraser Kelton. "We think that’s a critical user experience for a world in which you’re conversing with computers."
Companies would license an empathy API from Koko, which could be built into any third-party chatbot, like sticking a heart into a robot.
Microsoft's Skype Platform adds Skyscanner and Hipmunk, ticket store Stubhub, and programmable messaging service IFTTT to the growing Skype App Store. Microsoft also included Spock Bot a humor bot that provides information on the ways of Vulcan logic.
Advertising research company's Rhizabot lets salespeople access the data they need to close a deal. Rhizabot puts a conversational interface on top of the Rhiza platform, which combines datasets from inside a business with consumer behavior data from Nielsen, point-of-sale data from IHS Polk, and voter registration data from L2. You can talk to Rhizabot through Amazon’s Alexa, an Android smartphone, or the Google Chrome web browser.
Just three months after opening up Messenger bots to developers and brands, marketers are experimenting with everything from automated shopping to recipe recommendations.
Here's a look at how five brands (GE, American Express, Pizza Hut, Trolli, and WholeFoods) are using chatbots as part of their marketing strategies.