Saudi customer engagement platform Unifonic raises $125 million from SoftBank, others

Riyadh-based customer engagement platform Unifonic has raised $125 million in a Series B led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Public Investment Fund’s subsidiary Sanabil Investments, the company announced today, without sharing any details on valuation. It is the first investment by SoftBank in a Saudi startup and the largest-ever funding round closed by a Saudi startup at any stage. The deal has been in the news since June earlier this year when SoftBank Investment Advisers CEO Rajeev Misra said it has made an investment in a Saudi messaging platform.

Founded in 2006, Unifonic offers SMS, voice, and WhatsApp communication services to large enterprises in emerging markets (mainly the Middle East & North Africa). The company remained completely bootstrapped until raising $21 million Series A led by STV in 2018. It claims to have grown four times since then and currently processes over 10 billion transactions through its platform on an annual basis. Its website notes that it serves over 5,000 enterprise clients across the region.

“From SMS for online banking to WhatsApp vaccination requests, Unifonic empowers organizations to transform customer experience while allowing them to focus on core business activities without maintaining costly communication infrastructures,” stated the startup in a statement.

The Saudi startup plans to use the latest funds to fuel its growth in the Middle East and expand into Africa and Asia. Unifonic will also look at acquiring companies in the markets it is looking to expand into, its founder and CEO Ahmed Hamdan told Bloomberg.

In a statement, commenting on the investment, he said, “At Unifonic our mission has always been to empower organizations to engage and communicate seamlessly with their customers. I couldn’t be prouder to see our solutions making such a positive impact and reaffirming that mission. This raise is an important milestone in our journey, it will allow us to scale our offerings and expand our reach to enable more organizations to connect with customers reliably and effectively. Our team is our anchor and together we aim to continue this journey and serve our clients in the best ways possible.”

Faisal Rehman, Managing Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said, “Consumers and businesses are increasingly sophisticated in how they communicate digitally, but this has created fragmentation across multiple emerging channels. Unifonic’s technology manages this complexity into a single platform, enabling enterprise clients to form closer relationships with their customers.”

“Our investment team on the ground in Riyadh has followed Unifonic for some time and we have witnessed first-hand the company’s progress in establishing significant market leadership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We look forward to supporting the Unifonic team in scaling the platform across the Middle East and other emerging markets,” he added.

Unifonic is SoftBank’s second investment in the Middle East. The Japanese firm had earlier this year led a $415 million investment in Dubai-based cloud kitchen company Kitopi.

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