OpenPhone raises $40 million to replace your office phone and office PBX with an app – TechCrunch
Pam answering the phone at Dunder Mifflin has become one of the most iconic refrains of life at The Office, and it’s really no wonder: Businesses large and small have long used communications as they stand. are carried out on PBXs, voice mail, cold and heat. phone calls, customer help lines and, more recently, the inescapable cell phone that is always with you. All of that has, slowly but surely, changed, and today one of the startups hoping to be a leader in disrupting that tune is announcing funding as it finds some growth, currently dropping some $10 million. calls and messages per month for its customers. .
OpenPhone, which provides a business line and related phone services to users through a smartphone app, which in turn becomes a user’s business phone separate from their private cellphones, raised $40 million , a Series B it will invest in to continue to expand the communication and collaboration services it provides, and build deeper integrations with the other productivity tools its customers are already using.
Tiger Global – known in the venture capital world for its large growth cycles, but more recently for becoming more active in early stage, smaller investments – is leading this Series B, with former backers Craft Ventures, Slow Ventures, Garage Capital and Worklife Ventures among those also participating. Craft led OpenPhone’s $14 million Series A in 2020, with Slow leading earlier that year. Previously, the company went through Y Combinator in 2018. It has raised $56 million to date.
The founders of OpenPhone, Mahyar Raissi and Daryna Kulya, respectively from Iran and Ukraine and also married, are well aware that they are not the first to have thought of reinventing the humble professional telephone system.
Over the years, PBXs and basic phones have been replaced by IP PBXs and IP phones; telcos and managed service providers have had many stabs in the nebulous concept of “unified communications” around this; meanwhile, OTT solutions like Zoom and other web-based video conferencing solutions are so easy to use (and still give people voice and call options) that they’ve supported many conference calls , and Skype has integrated In and Out lines to meet the needs of those who are freelancing or working mostly solo.
Many people have stopped listening to voicemail messages and so messaging has become a much bigger part of the equation; call centers try to make calls harder (and they can be really frustrating when you reach them); some have given up on landlines altogether and used only their mobile phone to handle all their business calls; etc
In this context, OpenPhone’s unique selling point in the market, Raissi told me, is that it has built a system that caters to SMBs and brings elements of all of the above, in a format which is the lowest friction of all: an app that you can use with your regular phone, but that gives someone a dedicated work phone number, and a growing number of related tools that they can use to communicate with colleagues and clients.
He said that in the United States – which is currently San Francisco-based OpenPhone’s main market – Google Phone could have potentially posed a significant competitive threat to the company, but he did not provide customer support to customers. users, which basically abandoned it. the race to tackle a larger wave of businesses beyond single-user early adopters.
The company, as you can imagine with a YC startup, found its first traction with other entrepreneurs passing through YC, and it grew with its users. Today, the company’s “sweet spot,” Raissi said, has between five and 500 employees, and to serve these large organizations especially, it’s gradually bringing in more services like PBX replacements, and they’re building integrations with established CRM and sales software.
“One of the big goals is to invest in integrators,” Kulya said. “Eg. one of the key elements is to connect OpenPhone to CRMs.” Ultimately, she said, all of a person’s interactions via OpenPhone can then be automatically recorded also in the CRM used by team to keep track of everything. This is also a reason why this is unlikely to be an area that OpenPhone will invest in to build its own CRM tools. She said the first integration will be with Salesforce, with Zendesk and more to come as well.
The crux of modern collaboration is the conversation these days, and OpenPhone wants to be part of that conversation, so to speak. The idea is to bring part of the philosophy of services like Slack to the telephone environment.
“We’re building phone services for the way people use phones today,” Raissi said, “so messaging is really important, and so is collaboration around a phone number. You could have a shared number for a team and easily collaborate on text messages and activities.We bring collaboration to the phone.