AI Speech Data Startup DefinedCrowd Closes $50.5M Funding Round
AI speech startup DefinedCrowd has closed a $50.5 million funding round from current investors. The Seattle-based model-training platform plans on applying the new capital to expand the company’s offerings and reach, with a potential IPO in the next few years.
DefinedCrowd performs data curation to speed up the training of AI for businesses. The five-year-old startup uses its software to help clients design and improve upon chatbots and voice assistants using custom data based on a potential audience. DefinedCrowd claims its revenue grew 656% last year and that it will be three times higher in 2020. What sets DefinedCrowd apart is that it crowdsources data using its Neevo platform. The community members are paid to do things like transcribing audio or recording their voices, as opposed to getting data from voice assistants. They annotate the audio to make it easier for users to filter based on elements like demographics and vocal emotion. It has grown rapidly growing from 45,000 to nearly 300,000 people around the world over the last two years, with more than half a million samples submitted a day. The platform supports several dozen languages with nearly perfect accuracy.
The Neevo platform also makes DefinedCrowd much more flexible in how customers use it. While it is capable of making a new AI model starting with a blank canvas, it can also use the filtered data to accomplish narrower goals with existing models. The templates and available solutions offered by DefinedCrowd fully formed may be a better option than starting from scratch for a voice app maker who wants to add new features to their existing creation.
That’s part of what drew existing investors such as Evolution Equity Partners, Kibo Ventures, and Portugal Ventures into participating in the round with new investors Semapa Next and Hermes GPE. Earlier investors Amazon and Sony did not participate this time, which is likely part of the IPO strategy pursued by DefinedCrowd. In total, the company has raised $63.4 million after closing an $11.8 million raise almost two years ago. That investors see value in DefinedCrowd is not surprising considering the rapid growth of data annotation as an industry. For instance, Mighty AI raised $14 million before being acquired by Uber last year, or Scale AI’s $100 million in investment for its data labeling tech. If DefinedCrowd is going the IPO route, it will want to make sure it doesn’t stumble the same way Flamingo AI did, with a potentially huge product on the way but not enough cash to see it through to where it’s profitable. Of course, with its coffers now topped up, that won’t be a problem for DefinedCrowd for a while to come.