This AI startup went from zero to $1 billion in two years

This AI startup went from zero to $1 billion in two years

Jan 22,2024
Voice AI startup ElevenLabs has gained so-called "unicorn" status after its latest round of fundraising.
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Voice cloning has just proved itself to have huge money-making potential. 

As investors are rushing to pour money into generative AI technology, a young startup called ElevenLabs, which uses AI tools to create bespoke and synthetic voices, has just raised $80 million (€73.4 million) and been valued at over $1 billion in the process, according to CEO Mati Staniszewski, cited by Bloomberg.

Doing so has granted ElevenLabs "unicorn" status, which is a business term for privately owned startups worth more than $1 billion. 

Before they entered the stock exchange to turn into publicly traded companies, Facebook and Google were also classified as unicorns.

The firm still has more potential steps to climb, however: the terms "centicorn" and "hectocorn" have been coined for private companies valued over $100 billion, and SpaceX is one of the very few to have achieved this status.

What is ElevenLabs?

The company has been developing tools for its users to create and design AI voices across 29 languages. Its voice-cloning products have found their way into content creation, gaming, publishing, education and accessibility, and counts the likes of The Washington Post among its clients. 

"We're building cutting-edge technology to make content accessible across languages - and voices - to enable everyone to connect with information and stories that matter," said Staniszewski in a statement.

Marking its success, the two-year-old company said in a statement that since launch, ElevenLabs' users have generated over 100 years of audio, while the firm grew from five to 40 employees. 

ElevenLabs has raked in the new round of funding with the help of venture fund Andreessen Horowitz, alongside Sequoia Capital, Smash Capital and SV Angel, among others.

The freshly raised $80 million will go into research and development, according to the company's press release. One of the projects they are working on is further developing an AI speech classifier tool which can verify if an audio sample contains ElevenLabs-generated content. 

The company is outspoken about respecting the rights of creators and tackled this in a new feature; the Voice Library marketplace is a platform where users can earn money for any AI version of their voices used.

Another of their freshly announced products converts spoken content to other languages in a short time, known as AI dubbing.

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