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US Zendesk bags EDB grant for regional tech talent development

SAN FRANCISCO-headquartered Zendesk has secured a financial grant of an undisclosed amount from Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) to invest in and develop talent in the region. (see clarification note)

The grant will help the customer experience (CX) solutions provider to double its product development and engineering team over the next three years, it said on Wednesday.

Through the partnership with EDB, Zendesk will hire more software engineers, product managers, devops engineers, security engineers, user experience researchers and program managers.

The partnership will also help the company expand into new initiatives – such as the launch of its customer relationship management platform Zendesk Sunshine, the acquisition of messaging platform Smooch, and WhatsApp for Zendesk.

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Zendesk has over 650 employees in the Asia-Pacific with a 23 per cent year-on-year growth. There are over 130 employees situated in Singapore, with a growth of 30 per cent year on year. It most recently expanded its Singapore office located in Marina One to span across 50,000 square feet.

Kiren Kumar, Digital Industry Singapore’s chief digital industry officer, said that this reflects Zendesk’s continued and long-term commitment to Singapore. This is by growing a strong pool of digital and tech talent and providing "exciting" job opportunities for Singaporeans.

"Zendesk has become a strong partner to Singapore, having set up a world-class product development and engineering team here," he added.

Digital Industry Singapore is the joint office of EDB, Enterprise Singapore and the Info-communications Media Development Authority. 

Zendesk first entered the Singapore market through its acquisition of live-chat provider Zopim Technologies in April 2014. Since then, it said its business grew over 30 per cent year on year, with the Asia-Pacific contributing over 10 per cent of its global revenue.

The expanded regional hub will also help Zendesk reach its ambitions of being a "billion-dollar company by 2020", it added.

As a CX solutions provider, Zendesk is in the business of giving brands tools to manage customer support conversations – which also gives access to relevant information to ensure customer needs are met.

For example, a customer wanting to talk to a brand about a shipping enquiry may start that conversation over a phone call and then move it over to an email conversation, Zendesk said to The Business Times.

Zendesk APAC vice-president Sandie Overtveld said the expansion of the firm’s capabilities in the region will allow it to deepen relationships with regional customers like Grab, Circles.Life, NTUC FairPrice and StashAway.

"A growth in digitally-savvy customers has changed APAC’s consumer landscape, and companies in Singapore have recognised the need to better meet customer expectations with more seamless and personalised experiences," he added.

According to Abhishek Deshmukh, Zendesk managing director of Singapore and vice-president of engineering, the productions and solutions developed in Singapore are also used by brands in more than 160 markets.

Clarification note: An earlier version of the article stated that EDB invested an undisclosed amount of funding into Zendesk. Both EDB and Zendesk have since clarified that the funding is in fact a grant. The article has been updated to reflect this.