IKala Interactive Media Inc (愛卡拉), which uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help e-commerce retailers gather and analyze customer data, yesterday said it has established a new commerce division, after the COVID-19 pandemic boosted demand for online shopping, gaming and e-learning, causing its revenue to rise 45 percent annually in the first quarter.
The company is tapping into rapid-growing AI-powered social commerce — where people use social networks to sell and buy goods — in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore, iKala said.
For instance, Facebook Shops last month introduced a way for Facebook and Instagram users to browse and purchase items without leaving the apps, as opposed to being rerouted through Amazon.com Inc.
Photo: Chen Ping-hung, Taipei Times
As people are confined at home and students are learning online, “enterprises are accelerating digitization and boosting digital marketing [to meet demand] after the pandemic broke out early this year,” iKala’s cofounder and chief executive officer Sega Cheng (程世嘉) told a news briefing in Taipei.
Online shopping, gaming and e-learning are the three areas that grew the fastest in the first quarter, at an annual pace of between 20 and 40 percent, Cheng said.
IKala counts Momo.com (富邦媒體) and Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋) among its customers.
Former Google Taiwan managing director Chien Lee-feng (簡立峰) joined its board of directors early this year.
Chien also serves as board director of another AI company, Appier Inc (沛星互動科技).
The new division, iKala Commerce, uses AI technology to help customers — mostly e-commerce retailers — gather personal data and access customer information to provide personalized services and customized content by recording customers’ behavior, the company said.
The company three months ago hired Alex Lin (林濬暘) to lead the new business as chief commercial officer.
With the data of 50,000 key opinion leaders, iKala also helps online retailers connect with social media personalities to sell their goods and boost sales.
Cheng said that the company expects the new social commerce business to become one of its revenue contributors.
Next year, the social commerce business is expected to make up 50 percent of the company’s revenue, Cheng said.
IKala’s cloud-based services contribute to between 60 and 70 percent of overall revenue, he added.
The new division is this year expected to generate more revenue than last year’s NT$500 million (US$16.8 million), he added.
Asked whether the company has any plans to launch an initial public offering, Cheng said that three years from now might be the right time.
IKala, which is nine years old, completed its series A funding of US$10 million earlier last year, with investments from Hotung Venture Group (和通創投), Pacific Venture Partners (怡和創投) and ACE Capital (鉑鈞資本).
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