Voice AI startup ElevenLabs gets unicorn status after landing m

Voice AI startup ElevenLabs gets unicorn status after landing $80m

Artificial intelligence (AI) voice generation startup ElevenLabs has secured an $80 million Series B funding round, minting them as the UK’s newest unicorn.

The venture was co-led by prominent investors including Andreessen Horowitz, former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman and entrepreneur Daniel Gross, who were joined by Sequoia Capital, SV Angel, Smash Capital, BroadLight Capital and Credo Ventures. The latest funding brings ElevenLabs’ total raised to $101 million and values the company at over $1 billion after it received a $100 million valuation in June.

Mati Staniszewski, CEO and co-founder of ElevenLabs, commented that their goal remains the same, “to transform how we interact with content by breaking down language and communication barriers.” He added that the London-based voice cloning company hopes to build cutting-edge technology to make content accessible across languages and voices “to enable everyone to connect with information and stories that matter.”

In the announcement, it also unveiled several new product developments, which are said to go live over the coming weeks including a new dubbing studio, a voice library marketplace, and an early preview of the Mobile App reader.

Who are ElevenLabs?

The AI voice company was co-founded by Piotr Dabkowski, a former Google machine learning engineer, and Staniszewski, an ex-Palantir deployment strategist, who were both raised in Poland. According to TechCrunch, the pair were inspired by the mediocre dubbing of American movies they watched growing up in Poland. As a result, they set about designing a platform that could do better.

Since its public launch in 2022, ElevenLabs claims that its users have created more than 100 years’ worth of audio. During this period, the company expanded its team from 5 to 40 members. Employees at 41% of Fortune 500 companies are utilizing ElevenLabs’ technology, reports EU-Startups.

The potential dangers of AI voice cloning

In 2023, ElevenLabs said it had found an “increasing number of voice cloning misuse cases” during its beta phase.

Motherboard discovered that 4chan members seem to have used the product to create voice simulations mimicking Joe Rogan, Ben Shapiro, and Emma Watson, using these to disseminate racist and various other types of offensive content.

As a result, the company said it would introduce additional safeguards to stop the proliferation of deepfake voices. This included a $5 monthly subscription which would require a credit card to sign up, as they allege that “almost all of the malicious content was generated by free, anonymous accounts.”

There was also backlash from voice actors who claimed that users had used the software to harass people online. Trolls reportedly created voices and then had them read out the victims’ home addresses, posting the results online.

According to another Motherboard investigation, ElevenLabs acknowledged that the voice resembling Agent 47 from the Hitman games was created using the company’s system.

ElevenLabs is not the only company exploring this area of artificial intelligence in voice technology. Last June, Voice.ai, a real-time voice-changing technology, also received $6 million in funding to further develop its platform.

Featured image: DALL-E

Suswati Basu

Freelance journalist

Suswati Basu is a multilingual, award-winning editor and the founder of the intersectional literature channel, How To Be Books. She was shortlisted for the Guardian Mary Stott Prize and longlisted for the Guardian International Development Journalism Award.

With 18 years of experience in the media industry, Suswati has held significant roles such as head of audience and deputy editor for NationalWorld news, digital editor for Channel 4 News
and ITV News. She has also contributed to the Guardian and received training at the BBC As an audience, trends, and SEO specialist, she has participated in panel events alongside Google.

Her career also includes a seven-year tenure at the leading AI company Dataminr, where she led the Europe desk and launched the company’s first employee resource group for disabilities. Before this, Suswati worked as a journalist in China for four years, investigating censorship and the Great Firewall, and acquired proficiency in several languages.

In recent years, Suswati has been nominated for six awards, including the Independent Podcast Awards, International Women’s Podcast Awards, and the Anthem Awards for her literary social affairs show.

Her areas of speciality span a wide range, including technology, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), social politics, mental health, and nonfiction books.

The post “Voice AI startup ElevenLabs gets unicorn status after landing $80m” by Suswati Basu was published on 01/22/2024 by readwrite.com