The Briefing: Facebook Buys Kustomer, ServiceNow Makes Big Acquisition, HungryPanda Raises $70M, And More

Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

Facebook to buy Kustomer

Facebook announced Monday that it plans to acquire customer relationship management startup Kustomer. The startup, which is backed by investors including Battery Ventures and Tiger Global Management, has raised more than $173 million in funding.

Facebook did not disclose financial terms of the acquisition but sources familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the deal was valued at about $1 billion.

“Kustomer is an omnichannel CRM platform that brings customer conversations from various channels together into a single-screen view. It helps businesses automate repetitive tasks so their agents can maximize the time and quality of interactions with customers,” Facebook wrote in a statement. “Facebook plans to support Kustomer’s operations by providing the resources it needs to scale its business, improve and innovate its product offering, and delight its customers. That way, more people will benefit from customer service that is faster, richer and available whenever and however they need it, whether it’s phone, email, web chat or messaging.”

ServiceNow to buy enterprise artificial intelligence startup

ServiceNow, the publicly traded company that makes cloud-based software to help businesses automate their operations, said Monday that it’s acquiring Element AI, a Montreal-based startup that makes artificial intelligence technology for companies.

Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but sources told TechCrunch that the price was around $500 million — less than the $600 million to $700 million the company was last valued at by private investors but ServiceNow’s largest acquisition to date.

“Element AI will significantly enhance ServiceNow’s commitment to build the world’s most intelligent workflow platform, enabling employees to work smarter and faster, streamline business decisions, and unlock new levels of productivity,” ServiceNow said in a statement announcing the deal.

Element AI has raised $257.8 million in total funding, per Crunchbase data.

Element AI co-founder Yoshua Bengio will also join ServiceNow as a technical advisor. A professor at the University of Montreal, Bengio won a 2018 Turing Award for “conceptual and engineering breakthroughs that have made deep neural networks a critical component of computing.”

DoorDash sets IPO range

Food-delivery app DoorDash is looking to raise up to $2.8 billion in its IPO, according to a new securities filing. [Read more]

C3.ai sets IPO price range

C3.ai, a Redwood City, California-based AI startup aimed at enterprises, on Monday set the initial price range for its initial public offering at $31 to $34 per share. In the middle of that range, it would raise roughly $504 million.

The company also said in its security filing that it plans to sell $100 million worth of shares to Spring Creek Capital, a Koch Industries affiliate, and $50 million to Microsoft, both at IPO price. Underwriters have also reserved 2.325 million shares.

C3.ai was founded in 2009 and is led by CEO Thomas Siebel, who previously led customer relationship management software maker Siebel Systems until its acquisition by Oracle for $5.85 billion in 2006.

The company has raised a total of $228.5 million from venture investors including TPG, Breyer Capital and Sutter Hill Ventures and according to Crunchbase data.

HungryPanda raises $70M for food delivery

HungryPanda, a food-ordering and delivery app aimed at Chinese customers living abroad, raised $70 million in fresh funding.

Swedish venture firm Kinnevik led the financing, joined by several other investors, including 83North and Felix Capital.

Headquartered in London, HungryPanda was launched in 2017 by founder Eric Liu, a computer science graduate at the University of Nottingham who wanted to make it easier to get authentic Chinese food on-demand while away from home.

New funds

  • Firstminute Capital launches $111M fund: London-based Firstminute Capital has closed on $111 million for a new fund that will focus on early-stage European technology companies. Backers include former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Funding rounds

  • Aurora Solar secures $50M for solar tools: Aurora Solar, a SaaS company developing tools that enable solar professionals to design and sell solar remotely, announced a $50 million Series B, bringing the company’s total investment to more than $70 million. This round was led by ICONIQ Capital, with follow-on participation from existing investors Energize Ventures, Fifth Wall and Pear VC.
  • Glasswall raises $24M for cybersecurity: London-based Glasswall, a provider of technology to protect organizations from file-based threats, raised  £18 million ($24 million) in a new round led by billionaire investor Michael Spencer.

More news

  • NVIDIA creates alliance to back medical imaging AI startups: NVIDIA announced the creation of the Inception Alliance for Healthcare with GE Healthcare and Nuance for medical AI startups to accelerate their innovations through targeted networking, AI training, early access to technology, pitch competitions and technology integration. The initiative will kick off with a pitch competition for AI startups in medical imaging and related supporting fields.

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