Sendbird, a Born2Global Centre member since 2016, has closed $100 million in Series C funding led by Steadfast Capital and has moved into the ranks of unicorn startups with a total valuation at $1.05 billion. The messaging and communications solutions startup offers businesses in-app integrations for chat/voice/video and is one of 12 unicorns founded in Korea - and the first in the B2B enterprise software market.
The funding and valuation come amid growing interest in enabling in-app chat, voice, and video messaging functions to facilitate interactions with brands via mobile devices. Increasingly, the presumption is that customers should be able to click to engage in customer service, whether via chat or a voice or video call, and this is where Sendbird’s messaging APIs come in.
As evidenced by the growing demand, Sendbird reported that the number of monthly active users on its platform now exceeds 150 million and the number of applications powered by its messaging APIs has tripled over the past couple years to over 30,000 applications. Its largest U.S. customers include Reddit, Yahoo! Sports, Hinge, Headspace, and ServiceNow, among others.
In its humble beginnings, the messaging API solutions startup began back in 2013 under the name Smile Family with their service “SmileMom”, a community app for mothers as a social networking service. Then in 2015, the business model pivoted to an enterprise-oriented messaging model, and a new application program interface called Talk API debuted in 2016 - the same year they were selected as a member of the Winter 2016 Y Combinator class. In 2017, Sendbird officially started expanding globally through Series A rounds, followed by scaling up through Series B funding, which ended in the successful international patent filings and Series C round this year.
Throughout the stages, Sendbird received expert Born2Global Centre support in various fields, such as law, marketing, public relations (PR), business development, and primarily patent consulting, through which they have been able to achieve trademark applications and overseas tech research trends across 20 countries, including China, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
The Born2Global Centre’s Chief Executive Director Jongkap Kim sits with Sendbird’s Chief Executive Officer Dong Shin “John” Kim in the Centre’s YouTube channel below to capture the many challenges and triumphs of starting - and pivoting - a company from the ground up and opening a new door of opportunities for future unicorns.
This series “The Unicorns” conveys the inner workings and insights behind the growth process of startups starting from the early stage into an international presence, with plans to include more of such companies in the future.