Conversational AI start-up Uniphore has raised Series-D funding of $140 million, the company said in a statement. The round is Uniphore’s largest yet, and is led by investors like US-based Sorensen Capital Partners, Europe’s Serena Capital and Sanabil Investments from the Middle East.
Uniphore’s existing investors March Capital Partners, National Grid Partners, Chiratae Ventures, Iron Pillar Fund and Sistema Capital, the company said, have also participated in the round. Cisco Ventures has come on board, as a “strategic investor”.
"This is truly an exciting moment for Uniphore; what this financing signifies is the maturing and coming-of-age in AI opportunities in larger enterprise,” said Umesh Sachdev, co-founder and CEO, Uniphore, speaking exclusively to CNBC-TV18. "Over the last few years, we have been consistently winning in several markets including the US, Asia and several parts of the world,” Sachdev added, “This financing is a testament to that success."
Where does the money go?
With its latest round, Uniphore’s total funding stands at $210 million. Incidentally, the latest round comes just months after the start-up announced the acquisition of video AI start-up Emotion Research Lab in October. Uniphore says it will now deploy funds towards product innovation, in the aftermath of the acquisition.
"What this (funding) allows us to do is double-down on our product innovation cycles," said Umesh, "We are in the process of integrating Emotion Research Labs into the product, and building new products that combine voice and video AI."
Then there's fund-allocation towards global expansion: "We are also using this capital to expand to parts of the world where we don’t do business like Europe, Middle East, and a few others."
Uniphore targeting ARR of $100 million in FY22
Tech development and expansion aside, Uniphore has also affirmed that it is targeting a Contracted Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) of $100 million in FY22. "We are likely to get to a 100 million dollars ARR, which is one year ahead of our originally announced schedule,” said Umesh, “During COVID, business got a bit of a tailwind as markets saw a bigger demand for our product, which has continued in 2021 as well.”
Interestingly enough, it could well be its classical contact centre product that could catapult Uniphore into notching up $100 million in ARR in the coming fiscal, as opposed to newer products. “Our contact centre product, which has brought us this far, will continue to drive growth,” said Umesh, “The newer products, including the video AI capability, will only be announced towards the later part of the year, which won’t have major impact on revenues for this year.”
Uniphore will look to double head count by the end of FY22, from present-day 350 to 700 employees, even as it builds what Umesh calls an "investor network” across the globe, especially in countries like Europe and the Middle East.
Cisco Ventures, as strategic partner, Umesh says, will add value to this eclectic mix: "This (mix of existing and new investors) gives us a good map of the world where we can tap into resources from our investor network not just in the US, but also in Europe and Asia."
The billion-dollar question remains: when will Uniphore issue an IPO? Umesh hints that the decision may not be too far away. "Our investors are exciting about us potentially becoming a very large business in the coming years,” he says, "This means that at some point in the future, going public is a natural outcome. As we start to execute this round of capital next year, we will start getting to the drawing board of when is the right time to start thinking about going public."