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CX M&A: New Acquisitions by Cyara, Adobe, Acquia, and Zillow Group

Acquired Companies Include QBox, Rephrase.ai, Monsido, and Follow Up Boss, and Databricks Secures New Funding

CX M&A: New Acquisitions by Cyara, Adobe, Acquia, and Zillow Group

CX Firm Cyara Acquires Chatbot Tester QBox

Cyara, the CX Assurance Platform provider headquartered in Redwood City, California, has acquired QBox, the UK-based company specializing in the testing and optimization of conversational AI chatbots. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition of QBox complements Cyara’s chatbot testing and training capabilities in helping companies optimize the development process of their chatbots and conversational AI investments.

QBox offers a natural language processing (NLP)-driven platform that allows organizations to deploy, test, and improve conversational AI chatbots at scale. Designed to assess the quality of NLP training data and evaluate a chatbot’s efficiency in serving customers, QBox provides visibility into the impact of changes or additions to the training data model. The insights gained during the process enable companies to make informed decisions on scaling the domain knowledge of their chatbots and in understanding performance.

By combining Cyara’s expertise in CX assurance, including the optimization of conversational AI, with the QBox approach to testing conversational AI applications, organizations will be able to address the needs of their teams—including conversational designers, developers, QA professionals, and business analysts—working on chatbots and voicebots throughout their development lifecycle.

“As organizations accelerate their investments in chatbots, voicebots, and conversational AI, the need for optimization, testing, and risk management becomes a critical success factor to ensure flawless digital experiences are delivered at scale efficiently,” said Alok Kulkarni, CEO and cofounder of Cyara.

Benoit Alvarez, CEO of QBox, says joining forces with Cyara will bring together the capabilities of both companies to solve more use cases for a broader customer base. “Together, we can accelerate the advancement of conversational AI testing solutions and provide organizations with the confidence they need in deploying and managing conversational AI-driven interactions effectively.”

Adobe Acquires India’s Rephrase.ai, Exponents of AI-Powered Video Creation

Software giant Adobe has acquired Rephrase.ai, a startup based in India that supplies AI-powered video services. Financial details of the transaction are not available, but the acquisition is Adobe’s first-ever deal in the generative AI and video tooling space. The deal is also significant in that Rephrase is the first company based in India to be acquired by Adobe.

Rephrase is the maker of Studio, a text-to-video-generation platform that provides technology enabling enterprise users to create professional-looking videos without the complexity of video production. The company was the AI partner of US food manufacturer Mondelez International in the “Not Just A Cadbury Ad” advertising campaign, an initiative that won critical acclaim for helping small businesses in India gain greater visibility and increase engagement with their customers. In the campaign, Rephrase enabled shopkeepers in India to create custom avatars using the face of popular Indian celebrity Shah Rukh Khan, generating personalized videos of Khan endorsing their stores.

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In September 2023, Adobe introduced Firefly, a family of generative machine learning (ML) models for creating AI-generated art, which Adobe has integrated into its video-editing platform, Adobe Creative Cloud, along with the company’s other workflows, such as Adobe Express and Adobe Experience Cloud. Adobe will integrate the Rephrase tech stack and integrate its generative AI video capabilities with Creative Cloud. Thus, the acquisition is expected to help Adobe accelerate its ability to provide AI-powered video-content tools to customers.

Rephrase was founded in 2019 by three graduates of the 23-member Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), considered to be India’s premier engineering colleges. Prior to the acquisition, Rephrase had obtained seed funding in 2020 and had raised additional capital in a Series A round in 2022, for a total fund to date of $13.9 million.

DXP Specialist Acquia to Acquire Monsido Platform from CivicPlus

Digital experience platform (DXP) provider Acquia is acquiring Monsido, a website accessibility and optimization platform from CivicPlus, the web application business based in Manhattan, Kansas, that helps local governments optimize digital interactions for residents and staff.

The acquisition not only expands the capabilities of Acquia’s open source web content management platform but also supports the company’s mission to help build a digital future that is more inclusive and accessible. For its part, CivicPlus will continue to serve its US government customers who use the Monsido platform. CivicPlus will become a reseller of Monsido to US federal and state government agencies, which along with all other Monsido customers will become Acquia customers.

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With the acquisition of Monsido, Acquia now offers a complete solution for building, managing, and delivering digital experiences that are optimized to meet modern website standards and digital content guidelines, and that comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and legislated web accessibility as found in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Monsido will also help monitor and improve website accessibility, content quality, search engine optimization (SEO), data privacy, and performance.

“Acquia’s vision is to deliver the most open DXP to enable our customers to improve their businesses by creating superior experiences,” said Steve Reny, president and CEO at Boston-based Acquia. “Used with any website or as part of Acquia DXP, Monsido helps make digital experiences more optimized, accessible, and inclusive, so organizations can fulfill legal and regulatory requirements, uphold social responsibility, and expand market reach.”

Brian Rempe, CEO of CivicPlus, says the company is deeply committed to bringing accessible and inclusive technology to local governments. “By forming this partnership, CivicPlus and Acquia will lead and empower greater adoption of accessible technology that creates positive digital interactions for all technology users.”

The transaction is expected to close early in the first quarter of 2024. Acquia is backed by Vista Equity Partners, the Austin, Texas-based global investment firm focused on enterprise software, data, and technology-enabled businesses.

Real Estate Giant Zillow Group to Acquire CRM Provider Follow Up Boss

Real estate market firm Zillow Group has entered into an agreement to acquire Follow Up Boss, a customer relationship management (CRM) system for real estate professionals. The acquisition purchase price includes $400 million of initial cash consideration and up to $100 million in a potential cash earnout. When the acquisition closes, the 100 full-time employees of Follow up Boss—including cofounders Dan Corkill and Tom Markov—will join Zillow Group.

Based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Follow Up Boss gives real estate teams and agents a central hub to stay organized, engage customers, close deals, and grow production. Follow Up Boss will remain an independent brand, but as part of Seattle-headquartered Zillow Group will be able to invest further in improving its product offerings, executives from the two firms say. Follow Up Boss also plans to continue supporting its ecosystem of third-party integration partners, enabling agent clients to keep using their preferred systems, while Zillow Group will keep supporting third-party CRM integrations for its premier agent partners to work in the CRM system of their choice.

“We’re excited to have more resources to invest in new features and functionality while still delivering the great experience our clients enjoy today,” said Follow Up Boss cofounder Corkill. “Our mission remains the same—to serve top-performing real estate teams and agents by providing industry-leading technology to power their businesses. We know Zillow Group shares that commitment.”

Susan Daimler, Zillow president, says Follow Up Boss is beloved. “Follow Up Boss has built the best CRM for agents and teams in the industry, and we look forward to supporting its continued success so agents can exceed the needs of today’s buyers and sellers.”

Databricks Closes Series I Investment with New Investors

Databricks, the data and AI company based in San Francisco, announced additional closings of its recent Series I funding, which put the company at a $43 billion post-money valuation. Participating in the funding round were existing investors Amazon Web Services (AWS), CapitalG, and Microsoft, along with new investors AT&T Ventures, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), and Sanabil Investments.

The Series I funding will be used to accelerate the development of transformative AI technology, conduct research on generative AI, and hire AI data scientists and engineering talent.

“Generative AI adoption is a top priority for every CEO today,” said Ali Ghodsi, cofounder and CEO of Databricks. “With our partners, we can accelerate the development of our platform and deliver business value faster for our customers.” The Databricks platform unifies data, analytics, and AI on a single platform, enabling customers to govern, manage, and derive insights from enterprise data and build their generative AI solutions faster.

AT&T Ventures, AWS, CapitalG, Microsoft, QIA, and Sanabil joined previously announced investors participating in the Series I funding, including Andreessen Horowitz, Baillie Gifford, Capital One Ventures, ClearBridge Investments, funds and accounts managed by Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley), Fidelity Management & Research Company, Franklin Templeton, Gaingels, Ghisallo Capital Management, GIC, NVIDIA, Octahedron Capital, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and Tiger Global.

Author Information

Alex is responsible for writing about trends and changes that are impacting the customer experience market. He had served as Principal Editor at Village Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based consultancy on technology impacting healthcare and healthcare-related industries. Alex was also Associate Director for Content Management at Omdia and Informa Tech, where he produced white papers, executive summaries, market insights, blogs, and other key content assets. His areas of coverage spanned the sectors grouped under the technology vertical, including semiconductors, smart technologies, enterprise & IT, media, displays, mobile, power, healthcare, China research, industrial and IoT, automotive, and transformative technologies.

At IHS Markit, he was Managing Editor of the company’s flagship IHS Quarterly, covering aerospace & defense, economics & country risk, chemicals, oil & gas, and other IHS verticals. He was Principal Editor of analyst output at iSuppli Corp. and Managing Editor of Market Watch, a fortnightly newsletter highlighting significant analyst report findings for pitching to the media. He started his career in writing as an Editor-Reporter for The Associated Press.

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