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Summary:

The jury’s still out as to whether technology M&A activity will pick up in the coming weeks, but here’s one deal that’s just been completed: Interactive voice recognition systems developer Voxeo has acquired instant messaging agent platform developer IMified for an undisclosed amount. The deal allows […]

logo_shineThe jury’s still out as to whether technology M&A activity will pick up in the coming weeks, but here’s one deal that’s just been completed: Interactive voice recognition systems developer Voxeo has acquired instant messaging agent platform developer IMified for an undisclosed amount. The deal allows Orlando, Fla.-based Voxeo to build more sophisticated automated instant messaging response systems into its platform, with which developers and enterprise customers can build their own communications applications for customer service operations and similar functions.

Voxeo is aiming to take advantage of a generational shift in customer service communications, in which enterprises now expect to communicate with customers via methods beyond telephone and e-mail, by incorporating IM into an automated system requiring fewer resources than labor-intensive call centers. IMified’s platform allows developers to create automated bots or agents that operate on a variety of instant messaging systems. According to Voxeo CEO Jonathan Taylor, Voxeo had been tracking Sacramento, Calif.-based IMified’s development for some time before making an acquisition offer this spring. Neither Taylor nor IMified co-founder Adam Kalsey would discuss the deal’s terms, but Taylor said it included a combination of cash, equity and incentives, adding that he sees the revenue impact of the acquisition as “a 12-36 month play.”

Voxeo previously expanded its offerings last year by buying out VoiceObjects, a self-service voice systems company, and Micromethod Technologies, a communications and collaboration software maker that now operates as Voxeo’s Asia-Pacific subsidiary. Taylor said Voxeo is wholly owned by management and employees, and has been profitable for 21 consecutive quarters.

IMified never received external funding, and although Kalsey said it intended to pursue a software-as-a-service model, Taylor characterized the startup as “largely pre-revenue.”

  1. Is Voxeo getting out of the VoiceXML business given the dominance of services like IfByPhone, Tringme, Fonolo taking over? I remember they were advocating VoiceXML, but release of VoicePHP by Tringme really changed their course to Tropo!

    -Sergio

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    1. Sergio, perhaps you are right. Voxeo is trying to compete with VoicePHP given that it already supports IMs, Flash. What’s next on Voxeo’s list of acquisitions? A Flash-telephony company??

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    2. Sergio,

      Actually, Voxeo’s VoiceXML business is growing faster than ever as VoiceXML is increasingly the choice of enterprises seeking to avoid the lock-in of non-standard proprietary XML languages.  

      Since our founding 10 years ago, the goal has been to make voice application development simple for web developers and we’ve done that with XML.  In recent years, we have seen developers also want more API-based tools. In response, we acquired a company last August that gave us Java SIP Servlet support and then built on that to deliver Tropo earlier this year.

      Our goal is to provide developers a choice of how to develop communications applications.  Some will choose VoiceXML, CCXML and CallXML.  Some will choose languages like Ruby, PHP, Python, JavaScript and Groovy.  Some will choose graphical tools like our Designer or VoiceObjects.  In the end, we just want to enable developers to quickly and easily develop and deploy applications… both in voice and now in IM.

      Thanks for asking,
      Dan York
      Director of Conversations, Voxeo

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  2. yawn ~~

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  3. I consider growing adquiring portfolio to combine capabiities to offer new solutions is better and cheaper than “buying market share” adquiring mature companies (public or with 2-3 VC rounds). Buying early stage companies is an alternative to expand portfolio and adding new future revenue streams. To launch new products the planning hiring right people, develope, test, initial trials will cost more money, time and time to market than adquiring companies in early stage with little seed/angel rounds.
    At the same time the integration of a medium size big company inside another one is difficult when the company cultures are different. An early stage start-up is not so complicated to be merged.
    In my opinion this operation could be great for both parties. Congratulations for both.

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    1. I agree that *generally* acquiring companies is a good idea than inventing on your own. But in case of Voxeo, it appears as if they are desperately trying to catchup with competitors and be the one all shop for voice solution.

      All their recent acquisitions appear to be afterthoughts of their core technology and they somehow ‘fitting’ these technology within theirs. I wish they could re-invent and take over the charge instead of buying companies to keep up with the innovation.

      Anyway, lets see how this unfolds
      -Jeff

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      1. Jeff, my comment was a mere opinion. In any case, just to share a personal view (from my own experience), it is really difficult to develope different product line (even sharing the same “solving problem” vision) with limited resources. In case you get VC money to hire quicky, to organize different teams to speed up each product line is not so easy. Positive cash-flow companies can take the innovation roots they find in the street, and make them grow in their own garden :-)

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  4. You guys crack me up. Voxeo has 21 consecutively profitable quarters, 105% revenue growth in 2008, a 98%+ customer retention rate, and customers and partners we absolutely love and will go to any extreme to help succeed.

    Keep on nay-saying … and we’ll keep on deal-making.

    Best,

    -Jonathan – CEO @ Voxeo

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  5. Big congrats to Adam and his team!

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  6. Sergio: Thanks for mentioning us, but we’re really not competing with Voxeo in any way.

    Dan, Jonathan: Congrats on what seems like a really smart move.

    - Shai

    CEO, Fonolo
    http://www.fonolo.com

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  7. Interesting points. Thinking about this some more , the whole voice arena really heated up in the last 3 quarters or so. Some really innovative companies and products have come about in the last few months from various startups while Voxeo was mostly a VoiceXML house till recent past.

    So, the whole game is really about recent past and Voxeo has been acquiring companies in the same timeframe. Call it need for growth or desperation :)

    -Sergio

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  8. Firstly congratulations to IMified people & Voxeo, if they closed this agreement it means both consider a win-win future.
    I agree with juan that it is a very good strategy if booth parties are happy and it is easy to match cultures when adquiring in early stage.

    Voxeo is profitable, without IPO, they are growing, being highlighted by several analysys firms, and looking near technologies to their core to offer more to their customers, what was the problem ???

    congratulations !!!

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  9. Aren’t all private companies profitable?

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  10. no, they aren’t!!

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