Building conversational interfaces is a hot new area for developers. Chatbots can be a way to reduce friction in websites and apps and to give customers quick answers to commonly asked questions in a conversational framework. Today, Google announced it was making Dialogflow Enterprise Edition generally available. It had previously been in Beta.
This technology came to them via the API.AI acquisition in 2016. Google wisely decided to change the name of the tool along the way, giving it a moniker that more closely matched what it actually does. The company reports that hundreds of thousands are developers are using the tool already to build conversational interfaces.
This isn’t just an all-Google tool though. It works across voice interface platforms including Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Facebook Messenger, giving developers a tool to develop their chat apps once and use them across several devices without having to change the underlying code in a significant way.
What’s more, with today’s release the company is providing increased functionality and making it easier to transition to the enterprise edition at the same time.
“Starting today, you can combine batch operations that would have required multiple API calls into a single API call, reducing lines of code and shortening development time. Dialogflow API V2 is also now the default for all new agents, integrating with Google Cloud Speech-to-Text, enabling agent management via API, supporting gRPC, and providing an easy transition to Enterprise Edition with no code migration,” Dan Aharon Google’s product manager for Cloud AI wrote in a company blog post announcing the tool.
The company showed off a few new customers using Dialogflow to build chat interfaces for their customers including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Domino’s and Ticketmaster.
The new tool, which is available today, supports over 30 languages and as a generally available enterprise product comes with a support package and service level agreement (SLA).
Zuroa’s founder and CEO Tien Tzuo had a vision of a subscription economy long before most people ever considered the notion. He knew that for companies to succeed with subscriptions, they needed a bookkeeping system that understood how they collected and reported money. The company went public yesterday, another clear sign post on the road to SaaS maturation.
Tzuo was an early employee at Salesforce and their first CMO. He worked there in the early days in the late 90s when Salesforce’s Marc Benioff famously rented an apartment to launch the company. Tzuo was at Salesforce 9 years, and it helped him understand the nature of subscription-based businesses like Salesforce.
“We created a great environment for building, marketing and delivering software. We rewrote the rules, the way it was built, marketed and sold,” Tzuo told me in an interview in 2016.
He saw a fundamental problem with traditional accounting methods, which were designed for selling a widget and declaring the revenue. A subscription was an entirely different model and it required a new way to track revenue and communicate with customers. Tzuo took the long view when he started his company in early 2007, leaving a secure job at a growing company like Salesforce.
He did it because he had the vision, long before anyone else, that SaaS companies would require a subscription bookkeeping system, but before long, so would other unrelated businesses.
Building a subscription system
As he put it in that 2016 interview, if you commit to pay me $ 1 for 10 years, you know that $ 1 was coming in come hell or high water, that’s $ 10 I know I’m getting, but I can’t declare the money until I get it. That recurring revenue still has value though because my investors know that I’m secure for 10 years, even though it’s not on the books yet. That’s where Zuora came in. It could account for that recurring revenue when nobody else could. What’s more, it could track the billing over time, and send out reminders, help the companies stay engaged with their customers.
As Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research put it, they pioneered the whole idea of a subscription economy, and not just for SaaS companies. Over the last several years, we’ve heard companies talking about selling services and SLAs (service/uptime agreements) instead of a one-time sale of an item, but not that long ago it wasn’t something a lot of companies were thinking about.
“They pioneered how companies can think about monetization,” Wang said. “So large companies like a GE could go from selling a wind turbine one time to selling a subscription to deliver a certain number of Kw/hr of green energy at peak hours from 1 to 5 pm with 98 percent uptime.” There wasn’t any way to do this before Zuora came along.
Jason Lemkin, founder at SaaStr, a firm that invests in SaaS startups, says Tzuo was a genuine visionary and helped create the underlying system for SaaS subscriptions to work. “The most interesting part of Zuora is that it is a “second” order SaaS play. It could only thrive once SaaS became mainstream, and could only scale on top of other recurring revenue businesses. Zuora started off as a niche player helping SaaS companies do billing, and it dramatically expanded and thrived as SaaS became … Software.”
Market catches up with idea
When he launched the company in 2007, perhaps he saw that extension of his idea out on the distant horizon. He certainly saw companies like Salesforce needing a service like the one he had decided to create. The early investors must have recognized that his vision was early and it would take a slow, steady climb on the way to exiting. It took 11 years and $ 242 million in venture capital before they saw the payoff. The revenue after 11 years was a reported $ 167 million. There is plenty of room to grow.
But yesterday the company had its initial public offering, and it was by any measure a huge success. According TechCrunch’s Katie Roof, “After pricing its IPO at $ 14 and raising $ 154 million, the company closed at $ 20, valuing the company around $ 2 billion.” Today it was up a bit more as of this writing.
When you consider the Tzuo’s former company has become a $ 10 billion company, that companies like Box, Zendesk, Workday and Dropbox have all gone public, and others like DocuSign and Smartsheet are not far behind, it’s pretty clear that we are in a golden age of SaaS — and chances are it’s only going to get better.
There’s a new venture fund in town from some familiar faces.
Carey Lai, who previously worked at Intel Capital and IVP, is joining forces with Paul Yeh, formerly of Kleiner Perkins.
They’re calling it Conductive Ventures and it’s launching with $ 100 million under management. They’ll be investing in “expansion stage” companies across enterprise software and hardware categories, meaning Series A, Series B and beyond.
Check sizes will be between $ 2 million and $ 7 million dollars. They expect to invest in 10-15 companies for this first fund.
Conductive will be looking for “early product market fit with customer success,” Lai told TechCrunch. Then the plan is to “help them grow their businesses abroad.”
It’s not a corporate venture arm, but Conductive has Panasonic as its sole LP. Because of this, there will be a special focus on helping North American startups expand into Asia, particularly Japan.
Lai and Yeh touted “connections to Foxconn” and also ties to Taiwan to help them succeed overseas.
They also said they want to be hands-on when it comes to growth. Conductive will place an emphasis on improving margins, aiming to accelerate revenue and reduce costs.
The two were roommates when they were younger and think that they will get along especially well as an investment team.
So far, they’ve made four investments. There’s Ambiq Micro, a semiconductor manufacturer; CSC Generation, for consumer leasing; Desktop Metal, in 3D printing; and Sprinklr, for customer experience management. Lai has served on the board of Sprinklr. They hope to continue to take board seats.
Not to get ahead of things, but they are already thinking about fund two. Yeh said that it will be in “a couple years” and “slightly higher, slightly bigger” in size.
Last year two venture capital firms, General Catalyst and CRV, launched a program called the Velocity Network to get their startups in front of Fortune 500 executives in New York City. Today they announced that Mayfield has joined as the third VC firm in the network. New York is home to financial, insurance, security, retail, media, and other Fortune 500 companies — the very types of… Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch
We are still in the early days of cryptocurrency — or at least that’s what all of the startups that are jumping into this space NOW hope. And when there’s a gold rush, there’s plenty of money to be made by selling shovels (or ASIC rigs) to miners. It’s no surprise, then, that we are now seeing the emergence of a new class of B2B startups in crypto, too. Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch
Google today announced the beta launch of its enterprise edition of Dialogflow, its tool for building chatbots and other conversational applications. In addition, Dialogflow (both in its free and enterprise version) is now getting built-in support for speech recognition, something that developers previously had to source through the Google Cloud Speech API or similar services. Unsurprisingly,… Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch
Google Attribution 360
Just like with the free product, Attribution 360 is easy to set up, works across channels and across devices, and makes taking action easy. Both products also offer data-driven attribution, which uses machine learning to determine how much credit to assign to each step in the consumer journey. In addition, Attribution 360 is designed to be highly customizable and can measure ads from DoubleClick Campaign Manager. This means that you can get a view of your marketing performance that matches up with how you view your business. The new version of Attribution 360 is currently in beta, and will launch more broadly later this year.
Here’s how Attribution 360 is designed to solve the enterprise attribution challenge:
Attribution 360 offers seamless integrations with Google Analytics, DoubleClick Campaign Manager, DoubleClick Bid Manager, and DoubleClick Search. You’ll get all your marketing event data in Attribution 360 with no need for retagging and no data loss between systems. You simply link your accounts and reports will usually be available within 48 hours.
“The setup process for Attribution 360 reduced the time to first data from 3 months to just a matter of weeks. Using Google Analytics data was so much easier, we already had our GA tags onsite and validated. It just made life so much easier.” – Eric Bernhard, Marketing Innovation Manager at Dixons
Attribution 360 has a rich set of features to simplify the challenge of importing and managing your external data sources. You can ensure that your data is complete and correct with enhanced preview capabilities, in-product data quality reporting, and the ability to reprocess your data if you make changes to your setup.
The TV Attribution feature within Attribution 360 helps businesses integrate digital and broadcast data to understand their cross-channel performance. Good news: TV Attribution is now included in Attribution 360 with no extra cost and is available directly in the Attribution 360 UI.
Easy to take action
Of course the insights you get are only valuable if you can put them into action. Here are two ways Attribution 360 makes it easy:
- The in-product Digital Optimizer lets you explore a variety of optimization scenarios to inform future marketing investments and make your media more effective and efficient.
- Programmatic connectors send results directly to bidding platforms so your media buys use the most accurate attribution data.
Here’s how one of our customers, Confused.com, uses Attribution 360 to improve their search advertising.
Confused.com increases paid search conversions by 28% with Google Attribution 360
Launched in 2001, Confused.com was the first insurance comparison site in the United Kingdom. This 100% e-commerce company helps people save money on car insurance and related services.
Paid search is a critical part of Confused.com’s acquisition strategy. CEO Martin Coriat challenged his marketing team to improve paid search with data-driven insights.
To more deeply understand how people really interact with Confused.com’s marketing messages, the team implemented Attribution 360. Data-driven attribution insights showed each keyword’s role in the customer journey and the associated value to Confused.com. As suspected, data-driven attribution gave Confused.com proof of over-investment on some lower-funnel keywords.
Attribution 360 also revealed opportunities to invest in untapped upper-funnel keywords. Using these insights, the team was able to take immediate action in re-allocating spending to help drive up quote requests by 28% at a lower cost per acquisition.
“With careful data analysis and insights from Attribution 360, we’ve increased our quote volume and lowered our overall cost per acquisition. We’re now able to re-invest what we’ve saved back into paid search and put real pressure on our competitors.” – Sophia Glennon, PPC Manager at Confused.com You can read the full Confused.com case study here.
We look forward to sharing more updates on Attribution and Attribution 360 as we continue to invest in features and expand availability to more marketers.
Posted by Stefan Schnabl, Product Manager, Google Attribution 360
The best way to grow sales is to better understand sales, but unfortunately that’s often easier said than done. Kemvi, a seed-stage startup, is launching out of stealth today to announce DeepGraph, which helps sales teams reach the right potential customers at the right time. The company has closed north of $ 1 million in seed financing from Seabed VC, Neotribe Ventures, Kepha… Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch
Microsoft is launching IoT Central today, a new Internet of Things (IoT) service that gives enterprises a fully managed solution for setting up their IoT deployments without needing the in-house expertise necessary for deploying a cloud-based IoT solution from scratch. It’s basically IoT-as-a-Service. Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch
You might have missed it amidst Snap’s noisy consumer debut, but enterprise-facing IPOs put points on the board during the first quarter of 2017, even more than their consumer-focused siblings. In fact, the group may be set to dominate the year’s offerings. For startups working to sell to large corporations, their investors and their tens of thousands of employees, it’s… Read More
Enterprise – TechCrunch
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