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How much is automating customer comms in a time of COVID worth to Cisco? Almost a quarter of a billion dollars in a pure cash deal, apparently

US networking giant Cisco has agreed to buy London-based cloud comms business IMImobile in a $730m (roughly £550m) all-cash deal.

Shares in the AIM-listed IMImobile soared 47.33 per cent to 593p on the news, from yesterday’s close of 402.5p.

On its website, IMImobile says it: “provides cloud communications software and services that manage business-critical customer interactions at scale.” Translation? It has a bunch of products that allow businesses to talk to their customers across all the usual channels — voice, text, messaging apps, and so on.

In short, it’s like Twilio and MessageBird, with the exception that the aforementioned companies cost more to buy. They are valued at $51.27bn and $3bn respectively.

So, what’s Switchzilla getting out of the deal? In an LSE filing, Cisco said it will be able to sell businesses an end-to-end customer interaction management tool, which will drive “faster and smarter customer interactions.”

Analysts at TMV opined: “IMImobile serves a very attractive market at the moment, so it’s easy to see the appeal to Cisco which is looking to create its own Customer Experience as a Service (CXaaS) offer.

“IMImobile’s cloud communications platform is exactly the sort of digital offer that is well positioned to capitalise on changes to working patterns and the workplace coming off the back of COVID, making it easier for businesses to communicate with its customers in their channel of preference. This now stretches beyond the contact centre to include things like WhatsApp, RCS and Apple Business Chat.”

Founded in 1999, IMImobile became a publicly listed entity in June, 2014. During its lifespan as an independent company, it executed 14 acquisitions, according to Crunchbase, most notably the 2010 purchase of mobile content provider WIN for £16.95m, as well as the 2009 acquisition of Music2You, a music download and subscription platform previously owned by Nokia Siemens Networks.

News of the purchase coincides with the publication of IMImobile’s unaudited interim quarterly results for the six months ending September 30, 2020.

Revenues in the reporting period were down by 9 per cent to £75.9m, from £83m during the same stretch last year. It attributed this to a “change in the business model with one [presumably large] customer.” The cost of those sales was 20 per cent lighter than a year ago, leaving a pre-tax profit of £3.47m, up from £1.295m.

The firm noted in its report: “We have helped businesses rapidly transition their contact centres to remote working with our contact centre application, imiengage. We have also delivered emergency communications for our clients across all sectors, including working with the major mobile operators in the UK to send ‘Stay at home’ communications on behalf of the government.” ®


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