India’s largest conglomerate Reliance Industries on Wednesday said its subsidiary Reliance Jio Digital Services has acquired 87% stake in Haptik, an artificial intelligence(AI)-enabled conversational platform for Rs 700 crore (USD 101.3 million).
The investment will build India’s largest AI assistant company across chat, voice and vernacular languages, the company said in a statement.
“The transaction size, including investment for growth and expansion, is estimated at about INR 700 crore, with INR 230 crore as the consideration for the initial business transfer...The investment focus is on enhancement and expansion of the platform, with an addressable market opportunity of over 1 billion users in India,” the statement said.
As a part of this transaction, Haptik’s existing investor Times Internet has exited the business.
Over the last two and a half years, Reliance Jio has been building a digital ecosystem comprising of its own network, content, videos, utility apps and payment services. The move is aimed at further boosting the ecosystem with AI-based conversational capabilities in local languages. Earlier in February, Reliance Jio acquired local language technology service provider Reverie for Rs 190 crore.
“The Haptik team will continue to drive growth of the business, including the enterprise platform as well as digital consumer assistants,” the company said. “This transaction enables Reliance Jio to leverage Haptik’s capabilities across various devices and touch points in the consumer’s journey.”
Haptik competes in the AI-based voice assistant services space dominated by Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri. Founded by Aakrit Vaish and Swapan Rajdev in 2013, Haptik started as an instant consumer support application. Two years later, it pivoted to become chat-based personal assistants.
In 2017, after running its AI-enabled conversational bot for two years, Haptik pivoted from being a consumer brand to providing its tech to enterprises. It shifted its focus to enterprise-grade customer engagement solutions such as customer support, concierge, lead generation and live chat.
Till date, Haptik has processed more than two billion interactions for clients that includes Samsung, Coca-Cola, Future Retail, KFC, Tata Group, Oyo Rooms, Mahindra Group, among others, according to the statement.
Aakrit Vaish, co-founder and CEO of Haptik, said, “We started with the idea that conversational interfaces will cause a paradigm shift in the way people get things done. Over the course, we have built various products across both consumer and enterprise businesses, with the backbone always being a full stack chat and voice-enabled AI technology platform.”
“We truly believe now is the opportunity to serve the next billion users who come online, and who better to partner with than one of the world’s largest digital ecosystems in Jio. We look forward to using this strategic opportunity to exponentially scale up the business across various product lines,” he said.
Haptik will be Reliance’s sixth startup acquisition this year. The previous picks include Reverie, logistic startup Grab, software firm C-Square, government services aggregator app EasyGov and advance software solution firm SankhyaSutra Labs.
“For Reliance, these acquisitions are a critical pivot to dominating a future in India’s e-commerce and digital spheres, with a strong bet on AI and machine learning product-centric startups,” said Prabhu Ram, head of Industry Intelligence Group at CyberMedia Research, in a blogpost. “The string of recent acquisitions by Reliance have a seamless thread, running across music, local language to logistics, among others.”
Ram opined that Haptik acquisition will help Jio empower consumers everywhere to buy or sell using their voice.
“Reliance has, in the past, been vocal about its e-commerce ambitions. It maybe looking at potentially creating an O2O e-commerce model, that brings together its offline reach of small, independent retailers across India, with the online reach of Reliance Jio, RIL’s online platform,” Ram said in his blog.