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After Delisting From NYSE In 2022, Zendesk Announced It Is Acquiring A German AI Customer Automation Startup

Customer service company Zendesk is acquiring Ultimate, a German startup using artificial intelligence (AI) for customer experience.

Zendesk CEO Tom Eggemeier emphasized the pivotal role of AI in shaping the future of customer experience (CX).

“AI is the future of CX, and the next generation of AI agents are not merely tools but represent a fundamental shift in how businesses engage with their customers,” Eggemeier said. “With Ultimate, we aim to set a new standard, empowering customers with quick and effortless support from AI agents, allowing human agents to focus on building relationships, resolving complex challenges and driving innovation.”

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Founded in 2017, Ultimate secured $27.4 million in funding from various investors, including Techstars, according to Crunchbase.

The acquisition of Ultimate shows Zendesk’s ongoing commitment to AI, complementing its recent launch of Zendesk AI, an optional add-on for Suite Professional and Suite Enterprise customers.

Zendesk also recently completed its acquisition of Klaus, an AI-powered quality assurance (QA) platform to help companies deliver intelligent customer experiences.

In 2021, Zendesk acquired Cleverly, an AI automation startup.

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“Cleverly and Zendesk share a vision of democratizing AI as well as a passion for creating practical applications that make it possible for businesses to get started with AI right out of the box — without a team of data scientists required,” according to Zendesk’s announcement.

Zendesk’s journey has seen highs and lows, marked by its public listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2014 under the ticker symbol ZEN, and achieving revenue exceeding $1 billion.

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In 2022, Zendesk experienced setbacks with two significant failed deals, precipitating a period of uncertainty. The company rejected a $17 billion acquisition offer, followed by walking away from a $4.1 billion deal to acquire SurveyMonkey. These decisions raised concerns among investors.

Activist investors, including Jana Partners, expressed dissatisfaction with Zendesk’s strategic direction, resulting in a decline in its stock price.

Ultimately, Zendesk changed ownership. It was acquired by private equity firms Permira and Hellman & Friedman for $10.2 billion, a substantial decrease from the earlier offers.

Despite facing challenges and undergoing major changes, Zendesk has bounced back and continues to grow and incorporate various new AI-related features into its current software.

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