RingCentral acquires conversational AI startup DeepAffects

RingCentral, a company that creates cloud-based communication and collaboration tools for the enterprise, has acquired conversational AI intelligence startup DeepAffects.

Founded in 2003, Belmont, California-based RingCentral develops a range of cloud products for businesses, including contact center software, business phone and messaging systems, video conferencing, and more. As with other platforms that enabled businesses to transition to remote work during the pandemic, RingCentral has fared better than well throughout 2020, with subscription revenue up by a third and its share price more than doubling over the past 12 months to an all-time high of $387 today.

Gartner previously predicted that by 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be handled entirely by AI, up 400% from 2017. While that spans all forms of communications, from social media engagements to email inquiries and live web chat, telephone still plays a major role in both outbound and inbound customer interactions, as well as internal communications, which is where DeepAffects comes into play.

Founded out of Milpitas, California in 2017, DeepAffects is setting out to create “the new standard for voice intelligence.” This includes creating voice prints, which can be used to identify individuals from a few seconds of audio, multi-speaker recognition, speech-to-text, emotion recognition, intent detection, and conversational metrics. It’s about enabling companies to analyze all their voice-based conversations and extract insights, which is particularly pertinent as businesses transition to either remote work or a hybrid model. For example, DeepAffects’ analytics can show “talk-to-listen” ratios, revealing who talked or listened most in a meeting, or perhaps who asked the most questions.

The DeepAffects platform already natively supported a number of popular communication platforms, including Zoom, Webex, GoToMeeting, and RingCentral itself. RingCentral said this deal will enable it to offer “smarter video meetings” to its customers, which include the Oakland A’s, Orange, Canal+, BMJ, and Columbia University.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though DeepAffects had only raised a small $200,000 in seed funding, according to Crunchbase data, meaning this was unlikely to have been a checkbook-busting deal. Indeed, RingCentral said the acquisition wouldn’t have a “material financial impact” on its year.

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