Roblox announced today that it is acquiring Speechly, a voice technology startup aimed at moderating real-time voice chat. The deal signals Roblox’s commitment to enhancing safety and civility as it expands into voice-based social experiences.
Founded in 2016, Helsinki-based Speechly developed AI-powered tools for accurate, real-time moderation of voice chat. Their technology transcribes conversations and detects harmful speech, allowing gaming and social platforms to quickly moderate voice interactions.
With over 65 million daily active users, Roblox is one of the world’s most popular online gaming platforms. In recent years, Roblox has moved beyond gaming to become a “metaverse” allowing users to interact, create, and socialize. The company sees voice features as key to creating immersive social experiences.
Roblox first enabled voice chat capabilities for developers in 2020. More recently, it launched avatar-based voice calls with facial tracking to enable more lifelike conversations. However, integrating voice also creates moderation challenges. Studies show over 70% of gamers have encountered toxic behavior on voice chat.
Speechly’s technology offers a timely and effective solution. Their real-time voice moderation achieved higher accuracy in detecting harmful speech compared to rivals, with efficient on-device processing that reduces costs.
Hannes Heikinheimo, Speechly’s CTO, said “We are excited to be joining a company dedicated to safety and civility and to use our AI expertise to evolve traditional methods of moderation.”
The acquisition aligns with Roblox’s expanding demographic beyond children. Voice chat appeals to teen and adult users looking for more sophisticated social connection. But this requires added trust and safety measures.
Speechly's technology is not just robust; it's also designed with user privacy in mind. By processing speech on users' devices or in private clouds, the technology maintains stringent data security standards. Furthermore, the company recently received SOC 2 Type II certification, indicating strong data integrity and confidentiality measures. Such credentials likely made Speechly an attractive acquisition target for Roblox, which places a high premium on user safety.
For Roblox, the deal culminates two years of progress towards voice features. The company noted in its announcement Speechly’s technology will allow it to moderate the “scale, real-time and dynamic needs” of voice chat.
Looking ahead, the acquisition may enable Roblox to confidently expand voice capabilities, knowing harmful behavior can be addressed. This could open avenues like voice channels for older users or easy voice integration for developers.
While financial terms were undisclosed, for now, the deal appears to be a win-win. With voice features growing, companies like Roblox must figure out effective solutions for creating safer online spaces for everyone.