Freshworks President Dilawar Syed
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Helpdesk software company Freshdesk, Inc. has changed its name to Freshworks, Inc. The rebranding is designed to emphasize the San Bruno, CA-based company's newer and lesser-known capabilities, which include customer relationship management (CRM), IT service management (ITSM), and call center support management.
Freshworks was founded in 2010 and has more than 100,000 clients in 145 counties. The company has offices in Australia, Germany, India, and the UK. Its clients include Honda, Slack, and Toshiba. Although the company does not disclose annual revenue numbers, industry analysts estimate the company generates about $70 million a year.
Freshworks has also raised $149 million in venture capital (VC)—a stockpile of cash which has supported a recent acquisition spree that brought seven startups into the Freshworks family of products. These acquisitions include products that provide live chat functionality, a customer-to-support agent messaging tool, a social recommendation engine, and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven chatbots. The current Freshworks product line includes:
- Freshcaller: a cloud-based call center,
- Freshdesk: a multichannel customer support helpdesk,
- Freshsales: a full-featured CRM solution, and
- Freshservice: a cloud-based service desk and ITSM solution.
When asked if people would be wrong to view this rebranding as a mark against the original Freshdesk name, Freshworks President Dilawar Syed replied, "This is not a retreat...This move affirms our aggressive mission of broadening the business." When ask why the rebrand was appropriate at this time, he said that the company wanted to make sure its multi-product strategy was working. In other words, he wanted to make sure that all four products were successful and worth continuing to promote as part of the Freshworks family of products.
According to Syed, the overlap in what each of the company's four products could do was confusing for customers and the company's name change might help avert the confusion. "People thought that Freshdesk competes with Freshservice," he said. "You want to take confusion out. You want to simplify things."
The new Freshworks home page
The acquisitions, the new name, and the ubiquity of integration-automation companies such as IFTTT and Zapier and beg the question: Have we seen the end of pure-play vendors trying to compete in a market full of cross-discipline, multi-integration tools? If Freshworks' trajectory is any indication, then the answer is yes.
Freshworks Chennai, India office
The Helpdesk Landscape
Before we dig deeper into Freshworks, it's important to understand the helpdesk industry landscape. Freshworks competitors include tools such as HappyFox, Vivantio Pro, and Zoho Desk, the three tools PCMag considers to be best-in-class in the helpdesk field.
Each of these tools provide a wide selection of organic integrations with ancillary tools such as MailChimp email marketing, Salesforce CRM, and Shopify e-commerce. This plug-and-play integration lets users automatically flow data from one system into another. This also means automated tasks can be established between systems so that, for example, if a customer triggers a service ticket in one of these tools, then the system could add a note to the customer's Salesforce record. The system can then push an offer from the customer's e-commerce account via the MailChimp email marketing platform—all without the customer lifting a finger.
As previously mentioned, companies such as IFTTT and Zapier let this happen across platforms. With them, you could build your own Freshworks tool by integrating disparate call center, CRM, helpdesk, and ITSM tools. These integrations work well, but it's possible that you'll lose some of the power to customize data fields, run extensive automations, and build customized artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) processes into your workflow. Here's where Freshworks' rebranding comes into play.
Freshworks San Bruno, CA office
Syed said Freshworks is continuing to grow its product line. Although the company is still focused on the helpdesk segment, Syed said it will expand as it sees fit in order to provide more collaborative and more AI-driven, service-based products. "We've taken the approach to building multiple products that are talking to each other, " he said. "This allows us to diversify the business. Helpdesk as we knew it has evolved...You have to be nimble."
Because of the industry's evolution, working with multiple pure-play vendors has become challenging and expensive for customers, according to Syed. "I can imagine that things get pretty complicated for an SMB [small to midsize business], not just in terms of usability, but in terms of vendor relations," he said. "Customers want to simplify their world; they don't want to talk to 12 vendors. They're looking to make sure it's all affordable. With a suite play, you get more value for your dollar."