The development comes at a time when MessageBird has taken a firm, public stance against the Russian invasion of Ukraine since it began. The company has a hub based in Ukraine and has provided safe housing and transportation to its employees based there.
MessageBird has also been part of the launch of a private NGO called ‘People for People’, specifically formed to help those in Ukraine. This represents the mutual efforts of the founders of the three biggest Dutch ‘unicorns’ – Ali Niknam of bunq, Joris Beckers of Picnic, and MessageBird Founder and CEO Robert Vis.
Why this initiative
MessageBird founder and CEO Robert Vis says, “As someone born in Europe, I feel it is my duty to speak up publicly about a war unfolding at its borders and to show support for peace. To me, I have a responsibility as part of a new generation of technology founders and CEOs to speak up and make my voice heard. We all must leverage our influence and our technology capabilities to promote global peace and make it clear that we live in a world where consequences come from such actions.”
The Amsterdam-based company says it will impose its own sanctions on its Russian customers by shutting down API access to their platform, blocking SMS and voice traffic to Russian carriers by their global customer base, and re-routing all humanitarian and NGO communications traffic through international roaming agreements.
Robert Vis adds, “Money is needed in order to provide the appropriate humanitarian help for those affected by the crisis unfolding in Ukraine. But beyond Ukraine, we are looking to expand our communication capabilities for other crisis situations as well as hiring and educating refugees or providing our services to other NGOs. It is a constant battle we face.”
How will the funds be utilised?
The first $100K will be used to help Ukrainian and Russian refugees get to safety and offer visas. The funds will also be invested in innovative peacekeeping initiatives, provide a platform to help coordinate humanitarian efforts from the global tech community, and also be invested in mental health programmes around major crisis situations.
MessageBird.org will use the initial $10M to deploy in the next 24 months, although it is ambitious about raising more capital once it has proven its model. It will utilise a Dutch foundation mechanism called AMBI certification in order to raise third party capital and comply with the strict transparency requirements it will take to hold this certification.
An omnichannel communications platform
MessageBird is a cloud communications platform that connects enterprises to their global customers. The company was founded in 2011 by Adriaan Mol and Robert Vis.
In 2021, the company launched Inbox.ai, which enables customers to communicate with businesses practically through any channel of their choosing, including – WhatsApp, SMS, Voice, Messenger, Instagram, WeChat, RCS, Line, and Telegram.
The company’s product line also includes a Chat Widget and Flow Builder. The Chat Widget helps convert static pages into dynamic conversations. Whereas, the Flow Builder is an RPA (Robotic Process Automation) platform that enables auto-replies creation and message routing. These services are also available via an API or an Application Programming Interface for easier integration with different platforms.
With more than 700 employees, MessageBird claims that its global business reaches over 7 billion devices, serves over 25,000 customers and operates across 10 hubs. Some of its clients include Lufthansa Airlines, Heineken, Hugo Boss, Rituals Cosmetics, and SAP, as well as rapidly-growing disruptors such as Uber, HelloFresh, and Deliveroo.
The company has offices in Amsterdam, San Francisco, Singapore, Bogota, London, Shanghai, Dublin, Hamburg, and Sydney.
People for People
Three Dutch tech entrepreneurs have come together to aid those affected by the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. bunq’s Ali Niknam, Picnic’s Joris Beckers and MessageBird’s Robert Vis have set up the ‘People for People’ foundation to shelter refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
The foundation was established after bunq received an enormous amount of messages in response to a LinkedIn message that Niknam posted earlier this weekend. Former CFO of TransIP, Pieter Jan van Krevel, will develop and oversee the foundation in his role as director. All those affected or anyone who can provide shelter or wants to support the foundation can contact the organisation through the official website.
The initiative will help refugees from both Ukraine and Russia, and is currently looking into the effectiveness of various support actions it can implement. According to a statement, the foundation is already equipped to temporarily accommodate refugees in hotels and apartments in Bulgaria and Georgia. Moreover, People for People is also planning to get them into the Netherlands on a work visa.