San Francisco-based mobile marketing startup Leanplum has acquired the Bulgarian startup Connecto, which creates AI-based conversational interfaces. Leanplum will use the acquisition and Connecto's technology to enable brands to engage their customers in real-time, and to fuel innovation in AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and advanced algorithms across the its platform.

Using Connecto's conversational marketing technology, Leanplum will be able to capture customer signals in real-time, analyse inputs, and respond to users in a personalised way. Leanplum's customers will benefit from new conversational capabilities, including push notifications, messaging platforms, and digital voice assistants.

"Emerging real-time interaction technologies like voice assistants and bots are championing a marketing shift from one-way broadcasts to two-way conversations," said Momchil Kyurkchiev, co-founder and CEO of Leanplum. "Meaningful relationships between brands and their customers require real-time engagement, across multiple channels, and at different stages of the user journey — all in an automated fashion. With this acquisition, we are excited to strengthen Leanplum's leadership as the real-time engagement platform for forward-looking brands."

Connecto was founded by industry veterans Vassil Popovski, Radoslav Nikolov, and Vladimir Rusev. The startup's chat bots can be used on Facebook Messenger or Viber, and have been used in a variety of industries including banking, transportation, telecom, and ecommerce. The startup was originally backed by the Bulgarian VC LAUNCHub Ventures.

"Leanplum and Connecto share a common mission to help brands create lasting relationships with the context, relevance, and impact that customers demand," said Vassil Popovski, CEO at Connecto. "After becoming a key player in Rakuten Viber's bot ecosystem and partnering with brands such as Coca-Cola and Visa, we are excited to integrate our extensive IP for Natural Language Processing and sentiment analysis into Leanplum's leading mobile engagement platform."

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