Directly Promotes Mike DE La Cruz to CEO, Announces Record Growth of Customer Experience Automation Platform

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Directly, a leader in customer experience automation, announced the appointment of Mike de la Cruz to CEO. De la Cruz will continue the expansion of Directly’s industry leading platform, which simplifies the complex task of making AI and virtual agents work.

AI is rapidly transforming the “back-office,” automating business processes like order-to-cash and procure-to-pay. However, AI is struggling in the “front office”, where virtual agents misunderstand customer needs and fail to provide helpful responses and automated actions to solve customer problems.

Directly has reduced the complexity of making virtual agents work. Companies use Directly to understand what their customers want, provide answers, and solve customer problems. Directly’s platform includes a network of 20,000 experts to continuously train virtual agents and step in when needed, and the ability for a company to add its own experts, authors and advocates. Directly achieved record revenue in 2019, growing 10 percent per month in the second half of the year.

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De la Cruz was previously Directly’s chief business officer, where he led sales, marketing and account delivery, and was responsible for the company’s customers and growth strategy. Directly co-founder and former CEO Antony Brydon will now lead innovation as vice president, Directly platform.

“I’ve known Mike since our freshman year in college, and I’ve had the opportunity to see him succeed at large companies and fast-growing startups,” Brydon said. “I’ve always been impressed by his strategic thinking, his ability to simplify the complex and his ability to get teams rowing in the same direction. We’ll go further and faster with him at the helm and I’m excited to be a part of his team.”

Mike is a technology visionary in how software and AI can improve the customer experience. He served as senior vice president of customer relationship management (CRM) at SAP after a five-year tenure at Siebel Systems, where he developed industry-specific CRM software. He led a global team of 15,000 professionals at Hewlett Packard Enterprise to deliver front-office software and automation solutions for the financial services, telecommunications, consumer goods, transportation and high tech industries.

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“We are thrilled to have Mike at the helm of Directly,” Mark Selcow, partner at Costanoa Ventures, said. “He has driven record-setting growth for the company in 2019, and we look forward to the impact he’s going to have into 2020 and beyond. Mike’s elevation to CEO came at the recommendation of Antony, co-founder and then-current CEO, which demonstrated to our board Mike’s strength and readiness, and Antony’s leadership and foresight. We are very excited to have Antony leading Directly’s Platform team, where he’ll continue to drive the company’s products and innovation.”

The company also announced a $20M strategic investment that will significantly expand the company’s ability to bring AI and customer experience automation to the market. New participants in the round include Samsung NEXT, Industry Ventures and AvidBank. Existing investors M12, Costanoa Ventures, True Ventures and Northgate also participated in the round.

Industry Ventures, with billions under management and decades of experience, led the strategic investment.

“At Industry Ventures, our focus is to work with leading growth companies, full stop,” said Industry Ventures Vice President Brian Langner. “Directly saw tremendous growth towards the end of 2019, and the work they’re doing to revolutionize AI and machine learning for virtual agents is outstanding. We’re proud to take the lead on this strategic investment and we look forward to Directly’s bright future.”

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