Directly, a company focused on making chatbots more user-friendly and intelligent, has secured $20 million in a new round of financing led by Samsung’s NEXT.
Also investing venture capital were companies AvidBank, M12, Costanoa Ventures, Industry Ventures, Northgate, and True Ventures. M12 is the venture capital arm of Microsoft, according to published reports on Tuesday (Jan. 28).
Mike de la Cruz, previously Directly’s chief business officer, will be the company’s new CEO. He is an industry veteran.
“We are thrilled to have Mike at the helm of Directly,” Mark Selcow, partner at Costanoa Ventures, said in a statement. “He has driven record-setting growth for the company in 2019, and we look forward to the impact he’s going to have into 2020 and beyond.”
Chatbots are ubiquitous across platforms requiring user engagement in social media or online contexts. Traditional call centers were the industry standard for decades, but now artificial intelligence has allowed for less actual human involvement in multiple business and consumer interactions.
Directly’s intelligent chatbot platform acknowledges the person on the other side of the chatbot often doesn’t have technical knowledge and skills to answer a customer question. So Directly’s intelligent chatbots crowdsource for “experts” for the field in question and collate the data, analyze a solution and provide it to the customer.
Chatbot use continues to expand across different organizations and different platforms, as industry trends show. With this kind of artificial intelligence-driven growth on the horizon, Directly will likely compete with giants such as Google and Amazon sooner or later. Neither company has worked with Directly as of early 2020, but such potential competition and even more intriguing partnerships will certainly influence online interactions for years to come.