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Voice AI startup ElevenLabs gains unicorn status after latest fundraising

Artificial intelligence (AI) startup ElevenLabs has gained unicorn status after its latest round of fundraising, a person familiar with the matter said, as surging investor interest for generative AI technology sends startup valuations soaring.

ElevenLabs on Monday said it raised $80 million in Series B funding from investors led by venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz along with entrepreneurs Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross, with participation from Sequoia Capital among others.

The two-year-old firm did not disclose a valuation but the person said the round valued it at $1.1 billion, making it a unicorn – or billion-dollar startup.

That marks a jump from the $100 million valuation in its previous funding around in 2023, showed data from PitchBook, reflecting expectations for a surge in adoption of AI voice generation by firms as varied as games giants and movie studios.

Headquartered in London, ElevenLabs has developed AI models and tools for creating AI-generated voices with different languages, accents and emotions. It employs about 40 remote workers globally, and plans to expand to 100 by year-end, its chief executive, Mati Staniszewski, told Reuters.

Staniszewski declined to comment on the valuation.

The voice AI firm said its growing customer base consists of individual content creators as well as enterprises such as Storytel (STORYb.ST), opens new tab, Paradox Interactive (PDXI.ST), opens new tab and The Washington Post.

Political campaign staff in the United States are using ElevenLabs to reach voters who speak foreign languages, Staniszewski said.

“We’ll see more AI content across social media campaigns. The key primitive is make sure that people are aware that it’s AI. We are big proponents of being able to detect AI content and trace it back,” said Staniszewski.

Its tools include AI Speech Classifier, which helps identify AI-generated audio content. It also has products focused on dubbing for movies, and is developing a marketplace allowing users to generate AI voices and make money by licensing them.

The startup competes with other AI companies including OpenAI, whose ChatGPT popularized generative AI. The Microsoft-backed (MSFT.O), opens new tab startup released rival text-to-speech products last year.

“I think the biggest difference is that we … want to build the research, but also that workflow layer. And for us, this is the focus,” said Staniszewski. Reuters

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