The Italian Technology that reached Global Heights
Kaleyra has incorporated twenty years ago in Milan and today is active across the globe and is about to be listed on the New York stock exchange. It is a leader in the messaging services market for enterprises.
April, 8th | Fortune Italia – Maria Chiara Furlò
It feels like a whale in a bathtub when the water for swimming is not enough anymore. This is the feeling that prompted Dario Calogero to cross national borders to make the technology from Italy expand to newer heights, first with international acquisitions and now with the finalization to be listed on the New York stock exchange. In this way, in a few years, Kaleyra has become a global player present around the globe: Europe, Asia, and North America. At the ground of everything, there is a businessman from Milan who, among the various intuitions, had the focus on Mobile Messaging services for banks when this market in Italy did not even start. Today the market for messaging is huge and Kaleyra, even in its broadest sense and no longer limited only to banks – for the Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) – is undisputedly a leader. “It is not just the Italian, European, African or the American company but of the world: the companies that are part of it, operate globally” – explained Calogero. The global Messaging services market has reached 60 billion dollars in 2018 and has a growth forecast of up to 90 billion by 2022.
Let’s take a step back and start from the beginning. The Kaleyra group was incorporated as Ubiquity in 1999 in Milan. In these 20 years of presence, it has experienced rapid growth to hold more than two-thirds of the market of Mobile Messaging services for the banks (it is the fastest means with which the credit institutions dialogue with their customers). Having conquered such a large market share in Italy and, to keep on growing further, the company decided in 2016 to undertake a path of expansion abroad by opening the first office in Switzerland, in Lugano.
“Almost immediately, we realized that it was not enough to physically open an office abroad to expand business operations: we should have considered a growth by an external line of business. So, we started to explore the world” – continues Calogero. The main decisions were taken shortly after. At the end of 2016, the company announced the acquisition of Solutions Infini, a company headquartered in Bangalore, India’s ‘Silicon Valley’. At the head of this company “there were two Indian guys that today are 30 and 31 years old, but they had founded the company in 2009 practically as kids. In 2016 they already made 16 million dollars of turnover and in 2018 they made 38”, tells the Italian entrepreneur. The acquired Indian company always operates in the market of Mobile Messaging Platforms, but turns its offer to companies, opening the business of the company to a new market sector. The combination of the two platforms is immediately synergistic to expand the offer that is aimed at both banks and companies. The choice of this reality was motivated by the possibility of exploiting the size of the Indian market, but also collaborating with this company to expand in Asia and the Middle East.
However, an essential step was still missing. “Wanting to compete at high levels in the Cpaas sector, the target market still is America. All the companies comparable to Kaleyra are American”, explains Calogero, telling that it is precisely here that, immediately after India, it begins to concentrate its attention. The second big step becomes the acquisition of another reality, Hook Mobile, in August 2018. A step to penetrate the US market by exploiting the positioning of an innovative company, which already possessed all the fundamental technical requirements to operate in that market. For the corporate strategy, this acquisition represents a pole of expansion for the North but also for South America. With this operation, “Kaleyra becomes a global platform with a commercial presence in 3 continents, 235 employees worldwide, approximately 100 million dollars in revenue and significant growth data: + 30% year over year”, the founder rattles off.
To support growth and gain access to fresh capital, Calogero realizes that the time has come to add the stock market listing. The choice falls once again on the United States, moved by the large amounts of capital available there, and also by the fact that the world heavyweights of this sector are all (and quoted) there. In February 2019, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a business combination with GigCapital, a US private to public equity firm of Paolo Alto specialized in the technology, media, and telecom sector, already listed on the NYSE, was announced. With this aggregation, the group will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the KLR ticker by the second half of 2019.
All these steps have made Kaleyra today a powerful group on the global scale, specialized in providing Mobile Messaging services for banks and companies, with a turnover of 99.5 million dollars and a team of over 230 people (average age 27), distributed in 13 locations across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. The company targets banks and companies of all sizes, in every sector, and provides its services in around 200 countries. Among the more than 3,000 customers worldwide, there are SMEs, large companies, but also giants of global e-commerce like Amazon and Uber, in addition to the banks from which everything has started. For what concerns the services offered by the company, since the beginning in 1999, it has always focused on interactive services regarding the market of banks and credit card issuers, which started developing bank services in the early 2000s multi-channel direct, with significant investments on Mobile. In this way, Calogero had managed to pioneer this market in Italy since the dawn when these services were not present yet.
By working in this sector, the company has developed a proprietary platform for Mobile Messaging across global boundaries, respecting the strict safety standards imposed by Italian banks. The platform has been implemented following the acquisition of the Indian company Solutions Infini, which, working for small, medium and large companies, in a market as vast as India developed another capable of handling huge volumes, greater than Italy. Moreover, the Indian platform allows the development of Voice Messaging services, still not widespread in Italy, but will undoubtedly be implemented in the near future. Starting from this platform, Kaleyra continues to develop different products and to innovate for the global markets. For the future “we are focusing more and more on Voice Messages and Artificial Intelligence. Messaging between businesses and consumers is becoming more and more conversational, and for this reason, AI will certainly be indispensable“, assured Calogero.
AN OFFICE ABROAD WAS NOT ENOUGH, AND WE STARTED EXPLORING THE WORLD
WE ARE CONCENTRATING OUR EFFORTS MORE AND MORE ON ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
To find out more, read the Italian article on Fortune Italia.