Bonobo’s founders Ohad Hen, Idan Tsitiat, Efrat Rapoport, and Barak Goldstein. Photo: Nitzan Gur

Bonobo AI joins Salesforce

Bringing conversational intelligence to the Salesforce Sales Cloud

Big congratulations to the Bonobo AI team on the sale of the company to Salesforce which closed today. We’re happy for founders Efrat Rapoport, Idan Tsitiat, Ohad Hen and Barak Goldstein who will continue to build out Bonobo’s conversational intelligence platform, enhancing the power of the Salesfore Sales Cloud.

In truth, the acquisition is bittersweet for me.

G20 co-led Bonobo’s seed financing just last November, and I was particularly excited to work with Efrat to help build the company’s go to market team as she relocated to New York, leaving the development team in Tel Aviv. The company, though still in its early days, was seeing strong customer demand and engagement despite not having hired its first salesperson (as my partner Mike Troiano likes to say, “less whip, more harness.”) Their value proposition — allowing B2C companies to effectively “listen” to their customers at scale quickly — connected with customer success, sales, marketing, risk/compliance and product management professionals. The foundation of a great sales team is a product the world wants to buy, and it was clear very early on that Bonobo had one.

Salesforce saw what we did, and just as we were poised to begin to scale the company, they stepped in with an offer we couldn’t ignore as responsible shareholders. After some deep thinking and introspection, the team decided it made sense to proceed with it, and we did what any good investor focused on putting “People first” would do: we supported them.

In the end the offer was a good one, for them and for our fund. Still, I would have so enjoyed supporting this team in building out the dominant company in this emerging category, one we’re more excited about than ever and will continue to invest in.

The last generation of enterprise technology depended on people smart enough to understand the products… an era of complex certifications and value-added resellers, vendors wrestling for “account control,” reps with high W-2s and low handicaps. The next one — we believe — will depend on products smart enough to understand the people… an era of plug-and-play ecosystems, decision-making driven by business value, reps longer on problem solving and shorter off the tee. Human interfaces will let us act more like human beings, and at the core of that will be conversational UI.

Jarvis is coming. It may take superheroes to create it, but regular folks will be able to use it to get great results.

Do you know a great team focused on some dimension of conversational intelligence, or more broadly on conversational interfaces? Let me know, we’d be happy to take a look.

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