Posted on Monday, Jul 24th 2017
With leading tech giants like Alphabet, Apple, and Amazon focusing more on artificial intelligence (AI), the sector is attracting much funding. According to CB Insights, over 550 startups using AI as a core part of their products raised $5B in funding in 2016. Afiniti is one such startup that has become a Billion Dollar Unicorn.
Washington, D.C.-based Afiniti was founded in 2009 by Zia Chishti. It was originally called SATMAP and was renamed as Afniti International Holdings Ltd. in 2016. Zia was previously the founding CEO of Align Technology, a teeth-straightening device company, which is now valued at almost $10 billion.
Afiniti uses AI to efficiently match sales agents to answer each individual caller based on data such as purchase history, income, and demographic data from about 100 databases. The databases include census archives, credit firm Experian, data companies Acxiom, Targus, and Allant, and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These insights are then matched with that of the sales agent who has been successful in closing deals with customers having a similar profile. The company claims that such matching results in more satisfied customers and increase of 4% to 6% in sales. For its service, Afiniti charges a fee that’s competitive with a customer’s alternative cost of acquisition.
Initially, Afiniti targeted large telecom and insurance companies that have sizable call centers, but has now expanded its focus to medical organizations and banks. It claims to have dozens of clients who have installed its software in more than 150 call centers.
Afiniti has about 700 employees, of which 500 are engineers. Over 300 engineers work on client interfacing and the rest of the AI engineers are split between business analytics and machine learning. Its competitors include IBM’s Watson and MatterSight. Chicago-based Mattersight matches agents with customers based on a caller’s personality, which is determined based on prior customer-service calls.
Afiniti does not disclose details of its financials. It is not yet profitable but expects to achieve profitability in fiscal 2018. Its revenues are growing at an estimated 100% run rate.
The company has raised $122 million from investors including GAM, McKinsey, The Resource Group, Ten 95, G3 Investments, Elisabeth Murdoch, Sylvain Héfès, former CEO of BP John Browne, Ivan Seidenfeld, and a former president of Verizon Lawrence Babbio. In its latest round of funding in April 2017, it raised $80 million at a valuation of $1.6 billion. The company’s board includes Ivan Seidenfeld, former chairman and CEO of Verizon; John Snow, former US Treasury secretary; and José Maria Aznar, former Prime Minster of Spain.
Afiniti is considering going public and is rumoured to have filed privately for an IPO.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.
This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns
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