A transcription and captioning company that's helping to move the industry toward artificial intelligence has made a key acquisition to firm up its market position. For many in industries like journalism, the news is bitter-sweet, heralding new levels of efficiency and accuracy in transcription but also signaling the dying days of the venerable transcriptionist.
Verbit, which bills itself the world's largest AI-powered transcription platform, has acquired captioning company VITAC. The move will help Verbit secure its position as a dominant force in the professional transcription and captioning market, which is critical to sectors like legal, media, education, government, and enterprise.
As a journalist, I have a fond relationship with human transcription professionals. The degree to which professional transcribers go to get a spelling correct or to include a list of probable words in a garbled section of audio can border on heroic. The mere act of having something transcribed has often been a sort of unofficial delineation between veteran journalists and up-and-comers, for whom the initiation rites of transcribing interviews themselves are as brutal as they are tedious. And for niche applications, including some medical and specialty academic spheres, human-led transcription may still be necessary.
But sentimentalism aside, this has long been an industry headed for innovation. The rise of voice recognition technology and the power of machine learning to parse spoken language with help from immense datasets means the writing has been on the wall. AI-only transcription is still far from perfect, but companies are increasingly relying on AI for a first pass at transcribing audio.
San Francisco-based Verbit utilizes a hybrid approach to transcription. In-house, AI-based technology transforms both live and recorded video and audio into what the company claims are 99%+ accurate captions and transcripts for the education, legal, media, and enterprise industries. Human transcribers act as clean-up crews to increase accuracy.
"We are thrilled to further strengthen our position as the market leader in the transcription and captioning industry in partnership with VITAC. This opportunity allows us to expand our offerings for the media vertical and provide advanced transcription capabilities to our current education, legal, and corporate customers," said Tom Livne, CEO and Founder of Verbit. "The combined company will harness decades of transcription and captioning expertise to offer customers a best-in-class solution based on our proven technology. We will continue to invest in our platform, toptalent, and domain expertise to evolve and develop our solutions to meet our customers' dynamic needs."
VITAC, which has focused on communication accessibility via captioning, 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.
"We're delighted to join the Verbit family and bolster their leading position in the transcription industry globally," said Chris Crowell, CEO of VITAC. "We've been incredibly impressed with Verbit's rapid growth and technology advantages, and together we look forward to serving more of this dynamic industry with clients across all vertical segments."