Investing in Aircall, the cloud-based telephony for modern business
Aircall, a cloud-based modern phone system software, raised a Series C round of $65m last May and counts Gaia Capital Partners as a new investor. We are joining international growth equity firms DTCP and Adams Street in this round, being the only French growth equity firm invested in Aircall.
As a newly-founded growth equity firm launched from scratch in 2019, we can now proudly announce that our portfolio is growing up to two companies after our first investment in Welcome To The Jungle in late 2019. “Business as usual” would say some seasoned money managers accustomed to a large portfolio. But for us, this is just the beginning of the road building a European platform to support sustainable technology leaders. Onwards to new milestones and adventures!
This was also a great learning experience to test (i) our international thesis, as Aircall is a US-incorporated and global company, and (ii) our processes, as we did this investment on a 100% remote basis during French lockdown. Let us now elaborate on our investment in Aircall.
Aircall is reinventing a crucial business tool: phone calls
Firstly, this name might ring a bell for tech-savvy readers interested in software. As a refresher, Aircall’s mission is to enable every team to better perform phone calls and extract value from it, helping users and ultimately end clients with a seamless experience to voice calls. Aircall’s clients are companies willing to optimize their sales and customer support capabilities by equipping their team with the first collaborative, easy-to-use, and holistic phone call-centric software for modern businesses. You may have experienced the wonderful experience of reaching a customer service that already knows who you were and why you are calling, there is a great chance that this support or this marketing team is powered by Aircall.
The bigger picture is that Aircall gathers individuals around a vision to usher in a modern era for cloud telephony and productivity software based on voice and collaboration. As we have seen during the global lockdown, software tools enabling remote voice-based communication and collaboration through UX-friendly and reliable cloud technology are key to both our personal and professional environments. With the objective in mind to provide SMBs and large companies with better solutions for their cloud telephony, Aircall is redefining the “unsexy” contact center software industry.
To do so, Aircall relies on three pillars we think are game-changers in this industry: (i) Voice over IP technology, (ii) easy-to-use product, and (iii) state-of-the-art integration capabilities.
First, VoIP technology enables communications to be delivered through the Internet rather than legacy telephone networks. This paradigm shift in technology has been a major trigger for cloud migration for companies willing to adopt SaaS solutions to push for a leaner business telephony stack at a cheaper cost.
Second, Aircall’s product is praised by clients as an easy-to-use yet comprehensive tool that enables users to operate advanced use cases with phone calls and collaborate with plenty of features from call recording, analytics, and sophisticated strategy to ace every call.
Third, Aircall can integrate with 60+ software many of which are indispensable to some companies nowadays such as CRM (Salesforce, Hubspot), ticketing (Zendesk, Gorgias), and messaging (Slack, Intercom) among others. This ability to seamlessly connect to existing workflow-specific software is Aircall’s X factor and makes the asset so special.
As crucial as it is to create meaningful business interactions, the phone-based voice conversation was long treated as a black box for corporations. Aircall has “productized” voice and treated it with all the granularity and sophistication it requires to unlock the full value of voice in business.
Further opportunities and challenges lie ahead for Aircall
Creating such moats over its development has been a thrilling path for Aircall which started in Paris in the famous SaaS-specialized startup studio eFounders. At that time, bear in mind that cloud telephony was unsexy and that internationalization for French companies was deemed as a hardship for most of them.
Flash forward to today, Aircall has untangled complex technology and product challenges, and the company’s successful settlement in New York has proved wrong to pessimists (a significant portion of the revenue is now generated in the US). Aircall sees the bigger picture by nature and this can be reflected in their devouring ambition, their international culture, and their global client base (5,000 customers including nice brand names such as DoorDash, Lydia, BlaBlaCar…).
Aircall has the ambition to become a global leader in advanced telephony and map any critical use cases around voice interactions for businesses. A likely new frontier for the company will be to go further into the AI-driven voice recognition space to increase even deeper their value proposition.
Why are we thrilled to partner with Aircall?
At Gaia, we are very much excited by startups able to prove successful internationalization and we think Aircall is a bright example of a European-rooted asset with the potential of becoming a global software giant. Productivity software is an area of interest for us, and we see strong upsides in vertical products tackling a specific stack. The voice stack is one of the most interesting and exploratory spaces in software and Aircall has plenty of room to grow and iterate. Aircall believes that voice is the most powerful way to communicate with customers, prospects, candidates, and colleagues. We are also convinced that real-time interactions and engaging conversations through optimized voice-based software are the future of business communications and this revolution has recently started.
With that in mind, Gaia Capital Partners has a vocation to finance and support sustainable technology companies. In this respect, we see Aircall as an example of an inclusive and diverse company with an international culture. We also think Aircall develops a great tool to empower users with a consistent working environment in a Work from Home world without sacrificing performance and efficiency. One of our roles at Gaia is to further accompany Aircall in the creation and roll-out of ESG-driven best practices within the company for their employees and their clients. We are convinced that the more virtuous a business is ESG-wise, the more impactful it will be for its stakeholders and its shareholders. We already initiated the discussions around ESG best practices with the C-suite and presented the UN’s Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) rationale.
To cut a long story short, there are many reasons for us to be excited about backing Olivier, Jonathan, and the entire Aircall team on their journey to disrupt corporate telephony and voice-based business interactions. It is also an exciting opportunity for us to extend our portfolio and to expand our geographic coverage by completing Gaia’s first investment in the US.
Congratulations again Aircall, we couldn’t be more excited to be part of this adventure!
PS: Stay tuned for the announcement of our third portfolio company very soon.