Intercom Messenger Upgrades Service, Takes on Tough Market

Intercom, which was there at the beginning of the messaging trend, is quietly taking a solid market-share position and is not selling advertising on its platform.

Messaging platforms and all the apps that can run on them comprise the hottest development trend right now in the IT world. Facebook, by adding additional functionality to its already-popular Messenger platform, has brought this into the mainstream and renewed its perceived enterprise value in just the last several months.

However, there are other lesser-known messaging providers that have been busy—and also very successful—building their own clienteles, mostly via word of mouth and individual channels. Slack is one of the best known of this set; others include WhatsApp, WeChat, Zingle, Cirius and Cisco Systems' Spark.

You may not have heard of it previously, but Intercom, a San Francisco-based company founded by four Irishmen, is also among the leaders of this trend. Intercom was there at the beginning of this trend, is quietly taking a solid market-share position in this hot business and is not selling advertising on its platform.

Company Has Strong VC Investment Support

Intercom is a cloud-based service with 13,000 enterprise customers that has attracted a whopping $115.75 million in venture capital funding in six rounds from 29 investors, according to Crunchbase. The company's most recent funding round was for $50 million back in April.

CEO and co-founder Eoghan (pronounced "Own") McCabe, while explaining to eWEEK July 21 about the major upgrade in the platform, said that there was a window of time about five years ago when messaging-platform development suddenly came online.

"WhatsApp launched in fall 2010; we started in early 2011. Later in the fall of 2011, Facebook launched its first Messenger, and SnapChat and iChat started up," McCabe said. "There was quite a group there at the beginning. We were the first to offer in-app messaging, however.

"Now, the sector is maturing; new capabilities are being added; the competition is heating up. There is plenty of room in the market, however; but messaging is where it's all going, and we're in a good position."

How the Messaging Landscape Has Changed in a Short Time

Since that time five years ago, the messaging landscape has evolved. Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in May 2013 and incorporated its messaging platform into the main Facebook app. Slack, Spark and iChat also have made inroads, causing thicker traffic in the market.

While the competition appears formidable at this point, McCabe is confident that Intercom carries its own value that potential customers will want to buy.

The whole mission of messaging in business is for brands to get across-the-virtual-table personal with customers and potential customers. This goes for a potential sales customer or a current customer in need of personal service, and it requires a connection with the brand in an environment in which the customer is comfortable at all times.

This means having a fast and responsive Web performance and includes having all the pertinent information about the transaction right there on the screen. This is what Intercom offers, McCabe said.

Business Model: A Coffee Store in Dublin

"We always keep in mind the example of a coffee store in Dublin," he said. "You sit at the bar, order your drink, chat with the barista, and you build a relationship over time. We want to keep that type of intimacy at all times with our Messenger. So we designed the user interface to be completely user-friendly in the same way."

The newly released Intercom Messenger service features a list of new functionalities, McCabe said, including personal teammate profiles to help consumers connect more effectively with a person inside a business, flexible multiple message delivery options, image support and emojis, to speed up responses.

Go here to view a video on how Intercom Messenger works.

Launch partners for the new version of Intercom Messenger include Expensify, Getaround, Product Hunt, Fog Creek Software and Le Parker Meridien New York.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...