Cloud communications startup MessageBird just raised $200 million at a $3 billion valuation to expand internationally — and be ready to buy up struggling companies

  • On Thursday, the Amsterdam-based cloud communications startup MessageBird announced $200 million in Series C funding at a $3 billion valuation.
  • MessageBird says its biggest strength is in international markets like Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, and it rarely runs into competitors like Twilio in those markets.
  • MessageBird is also going fully remote to help with its goal of opening up its talent pool to hire more employees in regions like Latin America and Europe.
  • MessageBird would also like to acquire a company later down the line.
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Cloud communications startup MessageBird wants anyone in the world to be able to text directly with a business, and just raised $200 million in Series C funding led by Spark Capital at a whopping $3 billion valuation to help it achieve that goal. 

The firm builds customer service and automation software to help companies speak to their customers with live chat, text, voice messages, and more, and currently has roughly 20,000 customers, including Uber, Facebook, and SAP. The firm plans to use the fresh funding in part to ramp up its international hiring — and is shifting to a remote work strategy to help it do so. 

Launched in Amsterdam in 2011, MessageBird has actually "had to go global from Day One," CEO Robert Vis says.

This is the startup's biggest strength, he believes: MessageBird's strongest market is actually Southeast Asia, though it also has traction in Latin America and its home of Europe, and it rarely runs into competitors like Twilio in international markets. By allowing employees to work remotely even after the pandemic ends, MessageBird will have access to an even broader talent pool than it did before. 

"That's literally a move by us to recruit the best talent in the world because talent is still very hard," Vis said. "As good as tech is in Europe, finding people that have done it before is still very hard because the ecosystem has been growing for the past couple of years. The thing that's on my mind is finding the right people to grow and be the best service to our customers."

Vis says that before the pandemic, he was on the "complete opposite side of the equation" and believed it was important for employees to be together in an office.

"At the same time, I think COVID changed the world in a lot of ways," Vis said. "I think it's also my job as a founder to be disruptive and find new ways of working together."

Beyond changing Vis's opinions on remote work, its business has continued growing during the pandemic, although it was already growing quickly before, too. The startup is "pretty close to profitability" now. 

"Business has been going really well," Vis said. "Obviously at a time like this, we're seeing strong tailwinds in the market. More and more businesses are going online and trying to find ways to communicate with their customers."

Ultimately, the funding will also help MessageBird "have a strong balance sheet" which will allow it to take on any "opportunities" that came up, like, say, acquiring other companies that can help with its corporate messaging strategy. 

"There's a lot of interesting businesses out there that will probably struggle as a standalone business over time," he said, "Because the consolidation of enterprise software is very clear in sight."

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