Alibaba is throwing money at telephone robots

For a long time, industries like personal finance, insurance, real estate, automobile etc are resorting to the human call center conduct cold callings to reach out to more new customers. The new trend is Chinese startups are tapping into the opportunity of AI telephone robots.

Today two companies stand out.

First one Tungee, established in 2016 in Guangzhou, it has received at least RMB40 million from investors like Alibaba, GGV capital. Its telephone robot solution claims to make 800~1200 cold calls per day (versus humans making at 100~300 per day) at the minimum pricing of RMB9800 per robot. The robot is said able to communicate with customers using real-life voice, take the first step to kick-off the sales conversation, and respond to basic business interactions. The robot should do the first round calling, filter as many uninterested customers as possible, then redirect the useful leads to the human to do the followup calls.


To complement the telephone robot, Tungee also builds an enterprise database to crawl all the Chinese companies and related contact information from the web. The platform is aiming to assist call center to search for accurate and valuable sales leads from a large number of companies, and hopefully, achieve rapid conversion in the end. It is said the database even has a special edition integrated with DingTalk which is an all-in-one corporate communication and collaboration tool, powered by Alibaba Group.

The second company is Byrobot, launched in 2016 in Hangzhou. The founding team mostly worked for Alibaba in the past and now it is also the official partner of Alibaba’s cloud service. Its fundraising has reached millions mainly from Ameba Capital, composed of a bunch of former high ups from Alibaba now turning into investors.  Byrobot’s telephone robot’s pricing and technical sophistication should be on a par with Tungee, except for the fact that it does not offer the database solution of enterprise search.


Common sense suggests that most of the customers simply cut off the cold calling even without finishing hearing the first sentence, regardless initiated by human or robot. So the explosive growth of cold call quantity generated by robots does not necessarily boost the instant conversion rate. But apparently, it does not stop Alibaba clan’s profound enthusiasm in this new niche.

By: Cecilia Wu