ZoomInfo announced this morning it intends to acquire conversational sales intelligence tool Chorus.ai for $575 million. Shares of ZoomInfo are unchanged in premarket trading following the news, per Yahoo Finance data.
Sales intelligence, Chorus’s market, is a hot space that uses AI to "listen" to sales conversations to help improve interactions between salespeople and customers. ZoomInfo is mostly known for providing information about customers, so the acquisition expands the acquiring company’s platform in a significant way.
The company sees an opportunity to bring together different parts of the sales process in a single platform by "combining ZoomInfo’s historic top-of-the-funnel strength with insights driven from the middle of the funnel in the customer conversations that Chorus captures," it said in a release.
"With Chorus, the entire organization can make better decisions by surfacing insights and analytics that you would only get if you sat in on every sales or customer success call," ZoomInfo CEO and founder Henry Schuck said in a blog post announcing the deal.
Ahead of the transaction, ZoomInfo was valued at just under $21 billion.
Chorus looks for what it calls "smart themes" in sales calls, which help managers steer sales teams toward the types of conversation and tone that is likely to drive more revenue. In fact, Chorus holds the largest patent portfolio related to conversational intelligence, according to the company.
Chorus was founded in 2015 and raised more than $100 million along the way, according to PitchBook data. The most recent round was a $45 million Series C last year.
Crunchbase News reports that at the time of its Series C round of funding, Chorus had “doubled its headcount to more than 100 employees and tripled its revenue over the past year.” That’s the sort of growth that venture capitalists covet, making the company’s 2020 funding round a nonsurprise.
Notably PitchBook data indicates that the company’s final private valuation was around the $150 million mark; if accurate, it would imply that the company’s last private round was expensive in dilution terms, and that its investors did well in the exit, quickly more than trebling the capital that was last invested, with investors who put capital in earlier doing even better.
But we’re slightly skeptical of the company’s available valuation history given the growth that it claimed at the time of its Series C; it feels low. If that’s the case, the company’s exit multiple would decrease, making its final sale price slightly less impressive.
Of course, a half-billion-dollar exit is always material, even if venture capitalists in today’s red-hot, and expensive, market are more interested in $1 billion exits and larger.
Chorus.ai will likely not be the final exit in the conversational intelligence space. Its rival Gong (often known by its URL, Gong.io) is one of the hotter startups in this space, having raised over $500 million. Its most recent raise was $250 million on a $7.25 billion valuation last month.
The implication of the Chrous.ai exit and Gong’s enormous private valuation is that the application of AI to audio data in a sales environment is incredibly useful, given the number of customers the two companies’ aggregate valuation implies.