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Helpchat lays off 100 employees


Bangalore based virtual messaging app Helpchat has let go of over 100 employees, Ankur Singla, co-founder and CEO of Helpchat said in a personal blog post yesterday. Singla said that with the company’s evolution, it tried to scale 2-3 teams from its previous model (possibly before rebranding from Akosha), but was not able to do it for all the teams. 

He added that there wasn’t enough work to support and that the company would focus on building the personal assistant, and stop taking complaints. Helpchat has also downsized its work from home (WFH) program for chat experts, also citing that it was difficult for the company to ‘control their behaviour’ such as attendance, training, response times among others.

Meanwhile, Singla mentioned that they’re still hiring (engineers, product managers, category managers and analysts) for its other teams, the company has added 30 engineers, product managers and data scientists in the last 3 months in Bangalore and has grown 30 times in the last 6 months. In August, the company appointed Deena Jacob as its chief financial officer.

Nifler acquisition: Last month, Helpchat acquired the Mumbai-based startup Niffler for an undisclosed amount, to expand its services to Mumbai and Pune faster, given Niffler’s presence in these markets and grow its business. The entire Niffler team joined Helpchat. It’s not clear if Niffler was to be merged into Helpchat or maintained as a separate service. At that time, Helpchat claimed to have a team of over 600 people, and use AI to automate query answering.

Helpchat rebranding: Akosha, the Delhi-based online customer feedback platform rebranded to Helpchat in July. For the rebranding exercise, it tied up with Mumbai based Ogilvy & Mather and Open Design for the brand, logo and market services. According to the company, the nature of queries to the Akosha platform changed from complaints to other help services, and hence it converted to HelpChat.

Funding from Sequoia Capital: In May, the company, then known as Akosha, raised $16 million in a Series B round of funding led by existing investor Sequoia Capital. It was to use the funding to hire over 200 software engineers and product managers to build its platform and develop mobile apps. The company had previously raised $5 million is a series A round of funding in July last year and a seed investment of $200,000 in September 2011, both from Sequoia Capital.

Haptik-Akosha accusation: In March, Haptik, an app which lets its users get customer service for queries and company transactions, had accused Akosha of cloning its app. Haptik CEO Aakrit Vaish had pointed that both apps appeared to have an identical interface, and the text that Akosha allegedly initially used in its Android App page description appeared to be the same as for Haptik. To this, Akosha’s Singla responded by saying that for Haptik to say that Akosha has copied its app is “a leap of imagination and faith.” More on this here.

Image Credit: Flickr user martin gee

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