London-based voice AI startup ElevenLabs announced today it has raised $80 million in a Series B funding round. This brings the total amount raised so far to $101M and puts its valuation at an impressive $1.1 billion. This milestone not only underscores the fervent investor confidence in generative AI technology but also cements ElevenLabs' position as a frontrunner in the voice AI arena.
The startup's rapid ascent from a valuation of approximately $100 million just last year reflects not just monetary growth but a significant leap in the company's market impact and technological advancements. The sizable round was co-led by prominent venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and tech entrepreneurs Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross. Existing ElevenLabs backers including Sequoia Capital, Smash Capital, SV Angel, BroadLight Capital and Credo Ventures also participated.
Since publicly launching just over a year ago, ElevenLabs has quickly gained traction for its versatile synthetic voice capabilities that allow users to customize AI voices across languages and emotional tones. The startup's speech synthesis, voice design, and voice cloning tools have already been adopted by individual content creators and major companies. ElevenLabs says it is now used by employees at 41% of Fortune 500 firms.
Fueling demand is the technology's widening range of use cases. Creators are leveraging ElevenLabs to enhance audience experiences with AI dubbing and voiceovers, while sectors like publishing, gaming, media and conversational AI are tapping the synthetic voices for audiobooks, character voices, and text-to-speech applications, among others. ElevenLabs has also forged partnerships across these verticals, teaming with the likes of Storytel, Paradox Interactive, The Washington Post, and AI chatbot builders including FlowGPT.
In tandem with the funding, ElevenLabs unveiled several new products that highlight the expansion of its capabilities:
- Dubbing Studio for more control over video localization and foreign language dubbing
- Voice Library Marketplace allowing users to monetize AI versions of their own voices
- Early preview of a text-to-speech mobile reader app
- Faster voice models with expanded language coverage
The company says part of the funding will go toward augmenting its robust in-house research to cement its lead in synthetic voice AI innovation. But ElevenLabs also stressed that ensuring ethical, safe and responsible technology remains paramount.
Synthetic voice technologies like those pioneered by ElevenLabs is undeniably impressive, and opens doors to myriad beneficial applications. From enhancing accessibility in education to revolutionizing content creation in entertainment and media, the implications are vast and exciting. These technologies are reshaping how we interact with digital content, breaking down language barriers, and offering new levels of creativity in digital communication.
However, the same technology that enables these advancements brings with it a sense of trepidation. The ease of use, and accuracy of tools like ElevenLabs' professional voice cloning have raised valid concerns, particularly in the context of deepfakes. In an era where misinformation can spread rapidly, the ability to create highly realistic synthetic voices is a double-edged sword. This concern is heightened in the current climate, with numerous global elections on the horizon and a general public that is still catching up in its understanding and literacy of such technologies. The potential for misuse in political campaigns or for spreading false information is not just a theoretical risk but a tangible challenge that needs addressing.
ElevenLabs has taken commendable steps to implement rigorous safeguards and help ensure the responsible use of its technology. For example, in order for a user to clone their voice, they must pass a time-locked voice verification captcha. This ensures that the user's voice profile matches the uploaded voice being cloned. Such measures reflect an essential and proactive stance in navigating the ethical landscape of AI and voice synthesis, aiming to preserve the integrity and trustworthiness of the technology.
With the momentum of its viral growth and this latest war chest, ElevenLabs seems well positioned to be a prominent shaper of the future of AI voice technology. But maintaining public trust via ethical checkpoints along its accelerated path will be imperative.