Google Acquires Onward, a Customer Service Automation Startup


Yesterday, Google has acquired Onward, a customer service automation toolmaker startup. The terms of acquisition weren’t disclosed, but the key members of Onward co-founders Rémi Cossart and Pramod Thammaiah and Chief Technology Officer Aaron Podolny will also join the tech giant.

This 3-year old startup started out based in Brooklyn, NY as Agent Q, a virtual assistant for shoppers, pivoted into a powerful bot service that can help business automate their customer service arm, answering queries to the frequent,  lower-value customer service requests, giving their customer service agents more time to focus on the service requests that are more complex and require more attention and urgency. Answers to the customers’ queries are brought out from a database so the basic questions are addressed with only a few follow-ups needed from the agent.

For customer queries that require a more complex answer, Onward built A Visual Bot Builder that allows user to create decision trees based on their customers responses. The best part? It doesn’t require the user to know how to code. Onward can also be integrated with different products such as Zendesk, HubSpot, and Shopify among others.

Onward announced the exciting news on their website stating the following:

Onward is Joining Google!

We’re thrilled to announce that Onward is joining Google!

At Onward, we’re focused on transforming the way people communicate with computers. Back in 2015, we were amazed by the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence — particularly in natural language processing and machine learning — and were convinced there was real opportunity to put those technologies to work. So we started Onward with the mission of allowing computers to participate in natural, human conversations.

It’s been an exciting ride ever since then. We began as a bootstrapped startup working out of our living room in a Brooklyn apartment. From there, we relocated to San Francisco and were fortunate enough to grow the Onward team and expand to clients across the globe. Throughout this journey, we’ve remained focused on unlocking the magical experiences that are possible when computers understand the subtleties hidden in a user’s actions and messages.

Today, we’re announcing the next step on that journey — Onward is joining the Google family! With Google, we’ll be able to expand the reach of the technologies that power Onward. These core technologies are what got us excited in the first place, and we are excited to bring them to Google.

We’d like to thank our clients, investors, friends, and family — it’s with your support that we’ve reached this moment. The next chapter will let the Onward team and technology truly shine, and we’re excited to continue to make progress towards our vision.

– The Onward team

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