Virtual Human Platform Startup Synthesia Raises $50M
Virtual human-hosted audio and video developer Synthesia has raised $50 million in a Series B funding round led by Kleiner Perkins. The startup’s platform allows clients to create content hosted by AI-generated voices and faces mimicking people realistically.
Synthesia leverages the AI of its video and audio platform to analyze the look and sound of someone in an uploaded video or from the company’s catalog of actors. The machine learning technology deconstructs the audio and visual elements of the person to generate a realistic simulacrum that can imitate the human well enough to do and say new things from a script that are unrelated to the uploaded content. The user can customize the final video or audio product and fine-tune it to match their vision without repeated retakes or the more usual editing software suite.
“Today, consumers expect video and audio content. And they take that preference with them to work. We’re seeing this drive rapid demand for scaleable content creation solutions in the enterprise,” Synthesia CEO Victor Riparbelli explained. “With Synthesia, anyone in the enterprise can generate video directly from their browser. No need for cameras, studios or actors. You simply select an avatar, type the script, hit generate and the video is ready in a few minutes. For our thousands of customers it is transformational to enable anyone in the company to produce uniform, on-brand video content for everything from internal training to personalized sales prospecting.”
Synthesia pitches its platform as cheaper, faster, and easier to learn compared to standard video and audio production. Clients can also keep their synthetic creations up to date without the need to repeatedly redo a whole recording and editing session. Instead, it just takes a script rewrite or changes in visuals to keep the already approved content current with any shift in the business. A recent new feature includes translating an avatar’s speech into more than 40 languages.
The new funding round comes less than a year after Synthesia raised $12.5 million, marking the rapid growth in virtual humans and synthetic video and audio demand. A virtual version of young Luke Skywalker appeared on The Mandalorian TV show thanks to the firm Respeecher, and there’s an entirely synthetic William Shatner conversing with people online. Val Kilmer, whose illness has left him unable to speak, has begun experimenting with a synthetic version of his own voice, and startups like Lovo, Veritone, and Wellsaid are all raising significant funding. Tech giants aren’t shying away from the tech either. Nvidia revealed a new synthetic voice generator called Riva just last month, which pairs well with its own virtual human services.