A $3.8 billion rival to Twilio in Europe just made a big acquisition to expand in the U.S.


MessageBird founder and CEO Robert Vis.MessageBird

LONDON — Dutch communications software start-up MessageBird said Wednesday that it had raised fresh funding and agreed to acquire commercial email platform SparkPost in a $600 million all-cash deal to help it expand its presence in the United States.

MessageBird, which competes with American cloud communications platform Twilio, says it raised a total of $1 billion in a Series C funding round, $200 million of which was raised last year. The deal, led by Eurazeo, comprised $700 million in fresh equity and $300 million in debt. Tiger Global, BlackRock and Owl Rock also joined as new investors.

MessageBird’s platform makes it easier for companies to communicate with their customers through a range of channels including SMS, voice and messaging platforms like WhatsApp. The acquisition of SparkPost will add email to MessageBird’s suite of communication tools, as well as top clients like Disney, JPMorgan and Adobe.

Making a big investment like this in email might seem like a kind of return to basics, but MessageBird CEO and founder Robert Vis said it’s still a widely-used method of communication between businesses and their customers.

MessageBird “wants to make communicating with a business to feel as natural as with a friend,” Vis told CNBC in an interview. “And if you define that as texting with a business, where are all the interactions happening today? They’re happening on email.”

Vis said MessageBird signed the deal with SparkPost and raised the additional capital simultaneously, a process that took “roughly 21 days.” The fresh financing was a top-up to its Series C round announced last year and gives the company a valuation of $3.8 billion. MessageBird has raised around $1.1 billion from investors to date.

The firm already has a strong presence in Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia, Vis said, adding that the deal with SparkPost will allow it to split its operations across four major markets. The combined company will have a total of 25,000 customers and 700 employees, as well as a revenue run rate of $500 million, MessageBird said.

MessageBird has been on a buying spree lately, acquiring Dutch video software firm 24sessions, Atlanta-based