September 22, 2011
News that salesforce has acquired service desk vendor Assistly in a move that many of us had an inkling about well before DreamForce – it seems that dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s of the deal saw it closing after the event. Assistly is a young company that is squarely positioned to compete with Zendesk (disclosure – I have done some freelance work for Zendesk in the past).
Like Zendesk, Assistly is focused on letting small businesses set up and deliver social enabled customer service – tapping Facebook, Twitter, Web chat and other channels to bring a complete view to the customer service picture. At a $50M all cash price, the deal recognizes the fact that Assistly is very young, having only launched 12 months ago. This youth is shown in the fact that Asssistly had, until this deal, only attracted around $6M in funding – making for a pretty good payday for it’s backers after less than 18 months.
The real question here is what the deal means for salesforce. The deal very firmly speaks to salesforce’s new “social enterprise” branding, in fact CEO Marc Benioff speaks to this saying;
The Assistly acquisition doubles down on that strategy by putting us at the heart of the new trend of customer service help desk applications that have instant sign up and zero-touch onboarding, expanding the potential reach of the Service Cloud to millions of companies around the world
I’ve long suggested that salesforce needs to start thinking about offering product for smaller businesses than its usual customer demographic. Assistly falls squarely in this region but salesforce has yet to have a credibly priced CRM offering that speaks to the same customer base. Interestingly salesforce seems really bullish about making themselves the number one service desk provider across all businesses. Alex Dayon, EVP applications went so far as to say that;
We’re committed to making the Service Cloud number one for the smallest to the largest companies in the world… the Service Cloud will now enable even the smallest companies to become a social enterprise
That’s an impressive ambition, but without a consistent story around CRM, one that sounds a little hollow – Assistly is integrated with other solutions (CoSupport, Get Satisfaction, Google) but part of a compelling service desk offering is the ability to integrate with a CRM product that aims for the same sort of customers – we’re yet to see that from Assistly.