Groupon today announced that it’s purchased Presence AI, a San Francisco-based company developing a communications platform that automates business-to-customer calls and messaging. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Groupon chief product officer Sarah Butterfass said that Presence AI’s portfolio will complement Groupon’s existing booking products and help to “accelerate” its development roadmap.
Presence AI — a member of the 2018 Alexa Accelerator cohort — had attracted $20,000 in seed funding from investors, one of which was Amazon’s Alexa Fund.
“We’re pleased to welcome the Presence AI team and their booking technology to Groupon. Booking is a key part of our voucherless initiative aimed at improving the redemption experience, providing always-on availability, giving consumers more reasons to buy through Groupon and opening up our marketplace to a broader range of merchants,” said Butterfass in a statement.
Presence AI, which was founded in 2015 by Michel Meyer, provides a configurable virtual assistant that integrates with health, beauty, and wellness merchants’ scheduling software to accept and manage bookings. It’s able to reschedule or confirm appointments autonomously and remind people when it’s time to book again, and to answer commonly asked customer questions as they come.
Those capabilities were no doubt attractive to Groupon as it looks to invest further in reservable experiences. Ahead of a planned transition to “universal bookability” for certain services in the future, the company increased bookable inventory 12% year over year and booked tens of millions of diners, concert-goers, spa visitors, and more in 2018.
“We’re very excited to join Groupon and continue transforming client conversations through the use of artificial intelligence,” said Meyer. “With more than 3 million text messages generated last year, Presence AI is saving merchants time and generating additional revenues. We can’t wait to bring our technology to more businesses.”
Presence AI is Groupon’s first public acquisition this year following its purchase of U.K. cloud savings company Vouchercloud for $65 million in May 2018. Prior to that, the company snatched up rival LivingSocial in October 2016 for a price low enough to be considered “not material.”