American Express Shares Cut to Neutral on Valuation

American Express shares were cut to neutral from buy by Susquehanna analyst James Friedman, based on a full valuation at the credit card and travel services company.

His rating was at buy for at least three years, according to MarketWatch. Friedman affirmed his share-price target at $110.

“It would be hard for [the company] to do better than its merchants, so consensus 2021 revenue up 11% looks full to us,” Friedman wrote in a commentary, according to MarketWatch. He said 7.5% growth is more like it, according to The Fly.

AmEx shares recently traded at $105.31, down 0.7%. They had fallen 15% year to date through Thursday. They also have risen 11% since Sept. 24, including Friday’s move.

Morningstar analyst Eric Compton sees American Express close to his fair-value estimate of $108.

“Investors should expect a difficult year for AmEx, as the company battles the coronavirus pandemic,” he wrote in a July commentary. “We expect payments volumes will decrease, revenue will decline, and credit costs will rise.”

About 30% of the company’s billings come from the travel and entertainment industry, “further exposing the company to some of the most affected industries,” Compton said. 

“These trends will eventually reverse as the economy recovers, but Amex will indeed be dependent on that recovery to return to pre-Covid-19 profitability levels,” he wrote.

For the long term, “we still anticipate American Express’s greatest challenge will be adapting to the evolving landscape in payments while targeting a new generation of millennial consumers who don’t place as much importance on AmEx’s brand when selecting a credit card,” Compton said.

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MessageBird Raises US$ 200 Mn In Series C Round at $3 Bn Valuation

The funding will be used to triple the size of the global team and further expand into its core markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America

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MessageBird, an omnichannel cloud communications platform on Friday announced that it has raised USD 200 million in Series C funding round.

The investment round was led by Spark Capital along with participation from Bonnier, Glynn Capital , LGT Lightstone, Longbow and others.

With this capital infusion, the startup’s valuation stands at USD 3 billion.

The company said it will use the funding to triple the size of its global team and further expand into its core markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Founded in 2011, the startup through its omni channel communication platform offers  a suite of both omnichannel products and cloud communications APIs that enable developers and enterprises to communicate with customers virtually from anywhere and on any channel.

The startup was bootstrapped and profitable for the first six years before raising its Series A round of USD 60 million from Accel Partners and Atomico.

Commenting on the latest investment,  Robert Vis, founder and chief executive officer of  MessageBird said,  “This latest round is validation that there is pent up demand from customers all over the world who also want traditional businesses to move into this brave new messaging-first omnichannel world and we have the leading product on the market to help them do just that.”

The startup has picked up the funding amidst a shift from physical-in store and call centre based customer service to remote and online workforce. This trend has fueled the demand for a wider range of messaging-first customer communication tools that is available at a broader range

Cloud communication platform MessageBird raises $200 million at a $3 billion valuation

MessageBird, a cloud communication platform spanning AI-powered contact center software and APIs for developers, has raised $200 million in a series C round of funding led by Spark Capital. The company has now raised a total of $300 million and is valued at $3 billion.

The Netherlands-based company is perhaps best known for its Twilio-like platform that enables app makers and enterprises to add messaging, voice, SMS, and email functionality to their products through an API (application programming interface). This spares them the resource-intensive task of developing communications infrastructure and makes it easier for companies like Uber to offer text- and voice-based communication features inside their apps.

Omnichannel

MessageBird has also been broadening its horizons. Back in March, the company launched Inbox, a cross-channel contact center platform touted as the “Slack for external communications.” Inbox allows companies to receive inbound customer service requests from messaging apps, SMS, voice, and email from a single interface. The platform also leverages AI and automation to detect sentiment and intent, translate between languages, and more.

Inbox by MessageBird offers companies a unified, "omnichannel" contact center

Above: Inbox by MessageBird offers companies a unified, “omnichannel” contact center

In the past few years, MessageBird has also launched a chat widget for web pages and apps, enabling customers to contact businesses across WhatsApp, Messenger, Google Business Messaging, Line, WeChat, Telegram, and SMS, among other channels. And it launched a “flow builder” tool for automating tasks such as routing messages or creating auto-replies, as well as programmable conversations, which gives businesses access to all the major messaging platforms through a single API.

Above: MessageBird: An “omnichannel” chat widget

The COVID-19 crisis has presented businesses with challenges and opportunities, and MessageBird appears to be benefiting from the rapid embrace of ecommerce and other digital services. After all, the transition to working and staying at home requires robust digital communication

Dialpad raises $100 million at a $1.2 billion valuation as businesses embrace ‘work from anywhere’

Dialpad, a cloud-based communications platform for businesses, has raised $100 million at a $1.2 billion valuation. The series E round of funding was led by Omers Growth Equity, with participation from Alphabet’s GV, Andreessen Horowitz, Iconiq Capital, and Work-Bench.

San Francisco-based Dialpad touts itself as a “unified communications platform” incorporating voice, video, and messaging. Its core products include UberConference, the web conference tool upon which the company made its name initially; Dialpad Talk, a cross-platform business phone system; and an in-bound contact center platform that connects companies with their customers.

As with other platforms in the online communications sphere, Dialpad was in a strong position to capitalize on the rapid shift to what it calls a “work from anywhere” ethos brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, reporting record numbers in the first half of the year.

“While many companies struggled to modernize in response to these changes, Dialpad had its two best bookings quarters in Q1 and Q2,” founder and CEO Craig Walker told VentureBeat.

The AI factor

Dialpad has also been steadily embracing AI, a foray that kicked off back in 2018 when it acquired TalkIQ, a platform that transcribes conference calls. The TalkIQ acquisition underpins what Dialpad now calls Voice Intelligence, and initially it enabled Dialpad to automatically create written notes from every call, with natural language processing (NLP) flagging all the actionable items from meetings and even carrying out sentiment analysis from inbound calls.

Ultimately, this was designed to improve productivity and glean deep insights, with “live coaching” and post-call analytics making it possible to drill down into what is and isn’t working, and put measures in place to improve things where needed. For example, Dialpad can identify objections made by a customer, as well as the response given by the sales or contact center staff. Additionally,

Gaming Giant Roblox Preparing To Go Public Early 2021, Eyes $8 Billion Valuation: Report

KEY POINTS

  • Roblox is currently valued at $4 billion
  • It raised $150 million in series G funding in February
  • Roblox has more than 100 million monthly active users 

Gaming platform Roblox is getting ready to go public on the U.S. stock market early next  year, a move which may double its current valuation of $4 billion, Reuters reported.

The gaming company is in talks with investment banks to gauge whether it should debut on the market through a conventional initial public offering (IPO) or a direct listing, the report quoted sources as saying on the condition of anonymity. The company declined to comment to Reuters.

In an IPO, shares are created, underwritten an sold to the public, while in a direct listing, outstanding shares are sold with no underwriters involved. This is a rare method, which does not dilute the ownership of existing stakeholders.

This week, software maker Asana (NYSE: ASAN)and big data firm Palantir (NYSE: PLTR) became only the third and fourth companies, respectively, to opt for a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Roblox, based in California and founded in 2004, offers games on all mobile devices and gaming consoles. Its most famous games include Jailbreak and Meepcity. The company boasts of about 100 million global active users on its platform, with user engagement hours crossing 3 billion. Founder and CEO Dabid Baszucki said in an interview, “It is all about allowing the content to take center stage.”

In February, Robox raised $150 million in Series G funding at a valuation of $4 billion, led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

A very well-received market debut was another gaming platform, Unity Software, maker of hit games like Pokemon Go. Its shares have risen 60% since it went public on Sept. 18.

Video gaming is a lucrative