Source: Radio 021 | Tuesday, 24.09.2019.| 11:55
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Facebook acquires Israeli startup which builds bots

Social media giant Facebook has acquired Israeli startup Servicefriend for an undisclosed amount of money, TheMarker financial paper reported Sunday, citing one of the investors in the company.

They, however, didn’t want to disclose the price.

The startup, founded in 2015 by Shahar Ben Ami and Ido Arad, builds bots that chat and interact with clients via messaging or text apps, using artificial intelligence. The hybrid technology developed by the firm enables humans to step in and take over when the bots don’t know how to handle a situation, and clients never find out if the messages were generated completely, partly or not at all by humans. The result is a “natural and conversational experience.” the startup’s website says.

In some cases, the startup says, the bots outperform human agents in terms of customer satisfaction by over 20 percent, The Times of Israel writes.

Facebook has confirmed the acquisition, saying in a text message: “We acquire smaller tech companies from time to time. We don’t always discuss our plans.”

Ben Ami, the CEO and co-founder of the firm, has updated his LinkedIn page to say he is a product manager at the Calibra unit of Facebook as of September 2019.

The other founder Arad, as well as David Saidon, the startup’s VP R&D, have also updated their LinkedIn pages with similar information.

Calibra, Facebook’s research team in Tel Aviv, has been working on the social media giant’s new digital wallet, which is being launched as part of the firm’s Libra initiative, a new global currency based on blockchain technology.

The Tel Aviv team is building systems that keep track of and prevent any suspicious activity or any attempts to manipulate users’ accounts. In addition, the local team is in charge of building the tools that Facebook’s customer care team will use to provide assistance customers when there are issues, and this is probably where the Servicefriend technology fits in.
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