Merchant Innovation Jumps Into Voice-Activated Voice Assistants

Pop-star, entertainer and all-around renaissance man has found his new passion — corporate computing and voice assistants.

Okay, so it doesn’t quite have the same ring as the average Black Eyed Peas song, but it surely has attracted investor interest. — the tech startup founded by — has secured $117 million in venture funding to ease its entry into the corporate computing market with a voice assistant for customer service called Omega.

Founded in 2012, was initially focused on consumer electronics — think headphones. But now and its 300 employees are thinking about artificial intelligence — and attracting some interesting backers. In March, the firm raised an $89 million investment from a group including Salesforce Ventures.

“I wanted to create something that allows us to do many things,” said, founder and chief executive of the company, in a telephone interview with Reuters. “There’s so much you can do with a voice platform.”

Celebrity entrepreneurs are somewhat common — Jessica Alba, Ashton Kutcher and Joe Montana have made their way into the tech sector, though enterprise investments are unusual. Generally, famous people tend to leverage that fame through consumer-facing products.’s first enterprise customer is Deutsche Telekom AG, the German telecommunications giant that parents T-Mobile. Since July, the company has been using Omega to power an AI customer support chatbot and will be expanding to a voice chat system for phones as well.

Plus, said customer support is just the start of Omega. The goal is to build out a bigger AI-powered product base.

“One of those things is handling hundreds of thousands of customers’ inquiries about their data plans simultaneously,” said. “If it can do that, your imagination’s the limit.”


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