ElevenLabs: The Startup Turning AI into Universal Accessibility

A startup, founded by former Google and Palantir employees, is making waves in the AI voice industry. ElevenLabs, within just two years of its inception, has achieved unicorn status, raising $80 million in a series B funding round, with a valuation of $1.1 billion. Co-led by investors Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Nat Friedman, and Daniel Gross, ElevenLabs plans to use the funding to advance research and develop new products.

The Problem of Content Localization

Traditionally, content localization has focused on English or mainstream languages, leaving many dialects and languages underserved. Hiring dubbing artists for specific markets has been the approach, but this method often produces subpar results. Plus, scaling this content for widespread distribution is challenging, especially for smaller production teams.

“In a world where dialects and languages change with every region, it is impossible to localize content for everyone.”

Piotr Dabkowski and Mati Staniszewski, former machine learning engineers, recognized this problem firsthand, which inspired them to launch ElevenLabs. The company’s mission is to make all content universally accessible in any language and voice using the power of AI.

The Evolution of ElevenLabs

In its initial phase, ElevenLabs focused on synthesizing natural-sounding AI voices in English with its text-to-speech model. It then expanded to support synthesis in multiple languages like Polish, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Hindi.

“ElevenLabs’ technology combines context awareness and high compression to deliver ultra-realistic speech.”

Additionally, ElevenLabs developed a Voice Lab, enabling users to clone their own voices or generate new synthetic voices for audio content. This breakthrough garnered over a million users in a few months.

The company continued to innovate with AI Dubbing, a speech-to-speech conversion tool that preserves the original speaker’s voice and emotions while translating audio and video into 29 different languages. ElevenLabs’ impressive customer list includes 41% of the Fortune 500, as well as notable content publishers such as Storytel, The Washington Post, and TheSoul Publishing.

Introducing Dubbing Studio and Voice Library

ElevanLabs focuses on giving users a comprehensive set of features. They are launching Dubbing Studio, which allows professional users to dub entire movies in their language of choice and have additional control over production. However, lip-syncing capabilities are not available yet.

Moreover, ElevenLabs plans to release an accessibility app that converts text or URLs into audio and a Voice Library, a marketplace enabling users to sell their AI-cloned voice.

“Before sharing a voice, users must pass a voice captcha verification to confirm their voice matches the training samples.”

Earning trust from users is essential, and it involves a multi-step verification process to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of shared AI-generated voices. As these features become available, ElevenLabs aims to attract customers from various segments.

Expanding the AI Voice Industry

ElevenLabs intends to use the recent funding of $80 million, which brings their total fund-raise to $101 million, to advance their research in AI voice, expand infrastructure, and develop new vertical-specific products.

“Over the next years, we aim to build our position as the global leader in voice AI research and product deployment.”

According to Market US, the global market for AI-powered voice and speech generation tools is expected to reach nearly $5 billion in 2032, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 15.40%. Other players in the space include MURF.AI, Play.ht, and WellSaid Labs.

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