Facebook approaches purchase of $ 1 billion start-up

Facebook Inc. is close to closing a deal to buy Kustomer, a startup specializing in customer service platforms and chatbots, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal, which could be done as early as Monday afternoon assuming negotiations don’t collapse, would value New York-based Kustomer at just over $ 1 billion, the people said. According to PitchBook, tightly owned Kustomer was valued at $ 710 million in a private funding round about a year ago.

Kustomer already has a relationship with Facebook. Its offerings allow businesses to aggregate and respond to requests from customers who arrive via Facebook Messenger. In October, Kustomer said he had also started integrating with Facebook’s Instagram messaging.

Facebook, which has been in the spotlight for managing political and other content on its platform, has taken a big step forward in what CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called “social commerce”. This agreement could contribute to this effort. In May, the social media giant launched Facebook Shops, which allows businesses to set up online stores through Facebook and Instagram.

Kustomer was founded in 2015 by Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, two entrepreneurs who sold a previous company to Salesforce.com Inc. Kustomer’s investors include Coatue Management and Tiger Global Management.

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