Speech-to-Text Startup Voci Technologies Acquired for $59 Million by Medallia
Customer feedback analysis platform Medallia is buying voice transcription startup Voci Technologies for $59 million. Medallia plans to augment its database with vocal interactions gathered and transcribed using Voci’s artificial intelligence.
Voci provides real-time speech to text transcription services to companies that connect by voice with customers such as call centers. Pittsburgh-based Voci spun out of Carnegie Mellon University and had raised around $18 million in funding before the acquisition from the university and Grotech Ventures, and other investors. Voci’s platform records the audio interactions as they occur, and the AI examines the data for information about the caller and the communication.
Voci claims its platform can parse the gender and emotion of the speaker while identifying who they are using vocal biometrics. The AI can then redact any identifying information, so that the data can be analyzed without compromising privacy, according to the startup. Medallia’s product is built around helping companies gain insight into how to improve based on customer feedback via social media, surveys, and other channels. The majority of customer interaction still happens through phone calls, however, which means Voci’s tech could significantly boost Medallia’s capabilities.
“Voci transcribes 100% of live and recorded calls into text that can be analyzed quickly to determine customer satisfaction, adding a powerful set of signals to the Medallia Experience Cloud,” Medallia CEO Leslie Stretch said in a statement. “At the same time, Voci enables call analysis moments after each interaction has completed, optimizing every aspect of call center operations securely. Especially important as virtual and remote contact center operations take shape.”
Call Center Demands
The acquisition does not connote a drop in demand for Voci’s services, as is sometimes the case. The company cited an uptick in interest, in part because of the limited in-person interactions happening during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Remote contact centers are seeing a corresponding rise in calls that Voci’s platform could transcribe and examine for useful insights. The need to handle an influx of calls, and provide information relative to the current situation is why virtual agent developer Inference Solutions added coronavirus answers to its platform, and why Satisfi Labs is offering a pandemic-specific AI platform for its event and venue clients to answer customer questions.
Even before the pandemic, enterprise voice transcription startups had been attracting investment and acquisition interest from investors. A $10 million investment round for Otter.ai in January followed a $5 million funding round for Fireflies.ai just a few weeks earlier, while enterprise tech giant Cisco bought its own AI transcription startup, Voicea, last fall. The spike in potential customers as a result of the pandemic arguably only accelerated the trend of merging every potential data stream so that companies can better understand what a customer call means for the big picture.
“Our whole company is delighted to be joining forces with experience management leader Medallia. We are thrilled that Voci’s powerful speech to text capabilities will become part of Medallia Experience Cloud,” Voci CEO Mike Coney said. “The consolidation of all contact center signals with video, survey and other critical feedback is a game changer for the industry.”