The future is calling, and it dialed in on a landline

NumberAI, a startup that makes technology to add texting and AI functionality to old-school landline phone numbers, raised $10.5m to expand its business products.

January 29, 2019

NumberAI, a startup that adds the sweet, 21st-century functionality of texting to good ol’ landline phones, raised $10.5m

Some hip businesses have followed consumer trends and cut the cord of their business lines, relying entirely on email. 

But NumberAI and several competitors are headed in the opposite direction — by trying to make landlines cool again.

More than just an answering machine

Anyone who has ever accidentally sent a text message to a landline knows, through a mixture of annoyance and embarrassment, the limitations of non-mobile phone numbers.

But landlines don’t need to be dumb: NumberAI and competitors Zipwhip and Call-em-all create software that enables businesses to text customers from their landlines.

And the platform doesn’t stop there: NumberAI also allows small businesses to program automated responses to frequently asked questions, collect payments, and spot customer trends — all using a dumb-phone number.

But wait… Do businesses still need phone numbers?

The number of households with landlines has declined from 92.7% in 2004 to around 43.8% today. But that still means that more than 50m households still rely on landlines.

More importantly, an increasing number of people find texting (and not phone calling) to be the easiest way to interact with restaurants or stores: 89% of consumers prefer texting business to calling or emailing them.

So NumberAI isn’t actually clinging to an outdated type of technology, they’re improving customer experience. Plus, chatbots won’t be angry when you text them 3 times asking when your burrito will arrive.

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