Voice technology firm ElevenLabs’ value has topped $1 billion after its latest funding round.
The company announced its $80 million Series B Monday (Jan. 22), saying the funds would be used for — among other things — deploying new products and improving safety measures to “ensure responsible and ethical development of AI technology.”
While ElevenLabs did not include a specific valuation in its announcement, it said it had reached “unicorn” status, a term for a private company valued at more than $1 billion. Mati Staniszewski, the firm’s CEO, told Bloomberg News the exact figure is $1.1 billion.
With the funding announcement, ElevenLabs also revealed several product launches, including a new dubbing studio that lets users dub entire movies, and a voice library marketplace where users can earn from artificial intelligence (AI) versions of their own voices.
“Users can create their professional AI voice replica, verify it, and share it via Voice Library,” the company’s announcement said. “When others use these verified voices, the original creators receive compensation. Users always retain control over their voice’s availability and compensation terms.”
The past year has seen a wave of investment in companies that use AI to replicate the human voice, as well as a corresponding rise in concerns that the technology could be used for nefarious purposes.
“Utilizing generative AI, a fraudster can effectively mimic a voice within three seconds of having recorded data,” Karen Postma, managing vice president of risk analytics and fraud services at PSCU, told PYMNTS last fall.
“Fraudsters are utilizing AI to not just commit attacks, but to become very good at committing these attacks,” she added.
With these fears in mind, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) last year launched the Voice Cloning Challenge, inviting submissions of ideas that can help prevent the misuse of this technology.
“We want to address harms before they hit the marketplace and enforce the law when they do,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said at the time.
Voice cloning technology has seen advancements with the progress of text-to-speech AI technology, according to the release.
The FTC notes that while voice cloning offers promising applications like helping people who have lost their voices, the technology can be misused. For example, scammers could exploit voice cloning to impersonate loved ones, acquaintances or business executives, fooling unsuspecting consumers and doing financial harm.
In its Monday announcement, ElevenLabs said that the “safe and responsible development of AI” was a priority, with the company focused on creating detection tools to make sure AI-generated content is easily identifiable.
In 2023, the startup launched its AI Speech Classifier, which can verify if an audio sample contains content generated by ElevenLabs. The company plans to enhance the tool to cover more voice AI models this year.