UW spinout AnswerDash, a contextual Q&A service for customer support, acquired by CloudEngage



Left to right: AnswerDash CEO Don Davidge, and co-founders Amy Ko and Jake Wobbrock. (AnswerDash Photos)

Nearly eight years after launching out of the University of Washington, AnswerDash has been acquired.

The Seattle startup, which uses artificial intelligence to help companies answer customer support questions online, will join forces with CloudEngage, a Spokane, Wash.-based software firm that builds web personalization tools for clients such as T-Mobile, Dr. Martens, TrueCar, and others.

AnswerDash, originally known as Qazzow, spun out of the UW and the research of co-founders Jake Wobbrock, Amy Ko and Parmit Chilana. They came up with technology that embeds answers to customer questions within a website’s functionality, rather than forcing people to comb through an FAQ or use a written-based solution like email or live chat.

The idea is to reduce the amount of time customers search for answers online, ultimately helping businesses improve the consumer experience while retaining revenue and saving on support-related costs. Customers include MOO, Sennheiser and Talking Rain, PipelineDeals, and more.

The deal will help CloudEngage compliment its existing products such as live chat that allow companies to personalize their customer’s online buying experience.

“There are a lot of ways we can leverage what each other is doing,” said AnswerDash CEO Don Davidge.

Davidge called the acquisition a “good exit” and said it was not a result of the economic crisis.

Both companies say they’ve seen growth this year despite the ongoing pandemic.

“In tough times like these, everyone is looking for ways to reduce cost,” Davidge said. “If they can do it by providing a better experience for customers, then it’s a double win.”

CloudEngage  is off to its best year ever, said Scott Rozic, chief growth officer.

“Our customers find that CloudEngage is a way to get more done and to get more sales,” he said.

AnswerDash had raised more than $7 million from Voyager Capital, WRF Capital, Cowles Company, Summit Capital, the W Fund, and Arnold Venture Group.

Cowles Company is also an investor in CloudEngage, which originally started in Portland, Ore., seven years ago.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. CloudEngage, which has raised around $7 million, will now have a Seattle office where about a dozen AnswerDash employees work. CloudEngage employs less than 30 people. Backers include the University of Oregon, Alliance of Angels, TiE Oregon, and others

Davidge joined the company in 2016 and became CEO in 2018. AnswerDash was previously led from 2015 to 2017 by former Impinj CEO Bill Colleran, who now leads Seattle startup Lumotive. The AnswerDash co-founders left day-to-day work several years ago but remain in consulting roles. All three continue to teach at the university level.






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