Meta’s cost-cutting measures have had another impact, with Kustomer, the DM automation service that it acquired back in 2020, being divested. Meta is set to remain as a minority stakeholder in the platform.
Kustomer specializes in AI detection of customer queries, then either responds automatically, based on context, or re-routes messages to human service agents.
Meta had originally planned to integrate Kustomer into its DM customer service, tools, with WhatsApp business being the main focus. But amid broader cost-cutting measures at the company, which has seen it lay off thousands of employees, and shelve various projects, the Kustomer integration has become another casualty, with Meta instead looking to focus on its evolving business tools within WhatsApp itself.
As per Kustomer:
“Today marks a significant milestone for Kustomer as we begin our next chapter as an independent company. We’re poised for even greater success with the backing of our original partners who have invested $60M in capital to ensure Kustomer’s growth for many years to come. More importantly, we bring a core team of dedicated professionals who believe in our mission to elevate every customer experience by transforming the way businesses and consumers communicate.”
Kustomer will now embark on its own growth push:
“Our journey with Meta has been amazing and we are proud of the work we accomplished together to transform how businesses support their customers. Our partnership has resulted in expanding our international offerings, broadening our capabilities with artificial intelligence and deepening our integration with Meta’s modern communication channels (Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger).”
So it could be that Kustomer still becomes a valuable DM service tool, linked into Meta’s DM offerings. It just won’t be a directly integrated service – though DMs are a key focus for Meta moving forward, in line with evolving usage trends.
Given that the project had never reached its final intended stage, it’s not a major deviation for Zuck and Co., but it is another casualty of both the economic downturn, and of Meta’s ongoing focus in developing the metaverse over all else. Meta’s Reality Labs VR/AR department recorded a $3.99 billion operating loss in Q1 ‘23, which has it on track to best the $13.7 billion loss Reality Labs recorded last year.
With losses like this, Meta needs to be more rational with its spending in other areas, and Kustomer is the latest casualty to result from a bigger focus on costs.
Will that be an issue in the short term, as Meta continues to build its next-level vision? Meta’s clearly confident that it can establish its business messaging tools without the Kustomer platform, and as noted, it continues to build its WhatsApp business tools, which will also, reportedly, soon include more AI elements.