I’ve been writing about helpdesk provider Zendesk now for going on five years. Their original employee, and now APAC head, Michael Hansen, likes to tell the story about their first blog coverage (a piece I wrote for ReadWriteWeb) corresponding with the beginning of their hockey-stick growth. I don’t know about that, but I do know that the tiny startup that was still based in Denmark at the time I wrote about them, has shifted cities twice (first to Boston and then to San Francisco), grown immensely but still managed to retain its slightly off-beat character. This despite some serious competition from the like of Assistly (acquired by Salesforce.com and now called desk.com) and Beetil (acquired just this week by Citrix). I did a tiny bit of writing for Zendesk for a short period back in the day, but my coverage has always been focused on the interesting trait they demonstrate – that of being an enterprise software company, but still fun.

That friendly attitude seems to have stood them in good stead as Zendesk is today announcing a further $60 million in funding – picked up from heavy hitters like Redpoint Ventures, Goldman Sachs and the existing investors, Charles River, Benchmark and Matrix. The money, according to founder and CEO Mikkel Svane, is going to fun “technology innovation and continues global expansion”. The metrics behind the funding are impressive, according to Zendesk:

Zendesk’s monthly recurring revenues have grown nearly 500% since the last financing was completed in November 2010. Over the past 15 months, San Francisco-based Zendesk opened offices in London, Copenhagen, and Melbourne as well as established operations in Tokyo. Today, more than 100 million people in 140 countries get their customer service through Zendesk’s 20,000+ customers.

Alongside this funding, Zendesk is today announcing the release of a new application framework that it’s calling Zendesk Apps. Interestingly the new platform is the largest build to-date on Ember, a new and emerging JavaScript development framework. The new Zendesk is designed to integrate discrete communication channels such as live chat, social media, online communities, with email and phone support into a single customer service interface. Kind of like a unified inbox – but for a corporate support department. This new interface has already been well proven in the wild – Zendesk customer (and stellar Cloud POS vendor) Vend has been using it for the past two months and Nick Houldworth, head of marketing for Vend believes the new interface is more familiar in a mobile device setting. The new framework also allows customers to more readily integrate both external and existing internal systems – thus providing nice hooks into the systems of record a company uses. It’s touted as an “enterprise-level solution with a Facebook-like feel”.

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It’s a sure thing that business solutions need to better integrate disparate information systems in a pleasant and contextually appropriate interface. And judging by the legions of happy customers Zendesk has, they are delivering on this need. It will be interesting to see what changes $60M make to the business – here’s hoping the corporate MBA types don’t make them lose their sense of fun and frivolity!

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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