has acquired help desk service provider Assistly for approximately £32 million (US$50 million), the two companies announced yesterday. chairman and CEO Marc Benioff praised Assistly's service for its "instant sign up and zero-touch onboarding," and predicted that its offering would be used by "millions of companies around the world."

Assistly to join Service Cloud plans to market Assistly's service to small businesses, which may not have the infrastructure or wherewithal to support an in-house customer service department. The company will fold Assistly's service into its own family of customer service online offerings, called Service Cloud.

Founded in 2009, the company has marketed itself as a lower-cost alternative to ZenDesk, another online help desk service. Thus far, Assistly's customer-service help desk online applications have been particularly widely used by Internet service startups, such as Vimeo, Instagram, Klout and Spotify.

Easy to establish presence on social networks
The company's software allows organizations to embed a customer-facing Web-based help desk service within their own Internet offerings, as well as to easily establish a presence on a variety of social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter. has over 104,000 customers, including 17,000 that use the Service Cloud offerings, according to the company.