AI transcription company becomes unicorn

There's a huge future in speech-to-text (to the tune of $1 billion).
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

A transcription and captioning company is the latest to join the unicorn club. Verbit, which has developed an AI-centered speech-to-text process that's highly accurate, has closed a Series D worth $157 million on a valuation in excess of $1 billion.

"The transcription market has been ripe for innovation. That's the initial reason why I founded Verbit. The shift to remote work and accelerated digitization amid the pandemic has been a major catalyst for this $30 billion industry and has further driven Verbit's already-rapid development," said Tom Livne, CEO and Founder of Verbit. "Securing this new funding is yet another milestone that brings us closer to becoming a public company, which will further fuel our expansion through strategic acquisitions and investments." 

The company's total funding is now over $250 million, perhaps a surprising vote of confidence for a company that focuses on the surprisingly mundane (and heretofore largely human-powered) task of translating speech to writing.

If that sounds simple, it's not. Spoken language is incredibly difficult for a machine to interpret accurately. The rise of voice recognition technology and the power of machine learning to parse spoken language with help from immense datasets has helped Verbit make important advances. AI-only transcription is still far from perfect, but companies are increasingly relying on AI for a first pass at transcribing audio.

As we recently reported, Verbit has been making moves to corner the market through acquisition. Verbit recently acquired VITAC, a company focused on communication accessibility via captioning, which is responsible for captioning hundreds of thousands of programming hours each year, with clients including every broadcast company and most cable networks, as well as Fortune 1000 Corporations, educational institutions, and government agencies.

That broad customer base points to the prolific market for transcription and captioning services, which helps explain Verbit's eye-popping valuation. Verbit has seen 6x year-over-year revenue growth and close to $100 million in annual recurring revenue.

"With their hybrid transcription platform bringing together innovative technology and a network of over 30,000 transcribers, Verbit has forged a winning combination of AI and human intelligence," said Jai Das, president and partner at Sapphire Ventures. "The company has had unparalleled growth akin to some big, well-known companies out there and we're very impressed by the team's ability to achieve a unicorn valuation in just four years. We're looking forward to continuing to be part of this exciting journey with Verbit."

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