Square buys Eloquent Labs to inject AI into merchant's conversations

The payments giant intends to use the San Francisco startup's AI assistant to help its merchants enhance their customer service


Payments giant Square has acquired San Francisco conversational AI startup Eloquent Labs for an undisclosed amount with the goal of helping its merchants improve their customer service.

Square has been focusing on making tools for sellers to reach buyers in-person, online and in marketplaces so they can better serve their customers, and its latest purchase of Eloquent indicates its interest in introducing AI services to its offering.

Eloquent was founded in 2016 by two leading Stanford natural language processing (NLP) researchers, Gabor Angeli and Keenon Werling. In early 2017 it raised $1.5m in seed funding which it used to develop an AI conversational assistant named Elle that helps small businesses with common customer service-related issues such as returns, product tracking and FAQs.

"Eloquent's conversational AI services are exactly the kind of technology that can level the playing field for businesses of all sizes by providing sellers efficient ways to interact with their customers," remarked Square head of seller and developer business units and infrastructure engineering Alyssa Henry.

"The team will advance messaging across our entire ecosystem, and together we will build tools that leverage the latest in natural language processing research," she added.

Eloquent Labs will be speaking at the startup stage at DATAx San Francisco on May 15.

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