Voice AI Startup ElevenLabs Achieves Unicorn Status, Nabs $80M

ElevenLabs, an AI voice startup, has achieved unicorn status within two years of its inception. The startup announced a successful Series B funding round, raising $80 million and catapulting its valuation to $1.1 billion, co-led by existing investors Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, and former Apple AI leader Daniel Gross.

This funding milestone comes just six months after ElevenLabs secured $19 million in a Series A round, valuing the company at approximately $100 million at the time.  

Voice cloning with AI innovation 

Founded in 2022 by Piotr Dabkowski and Mati Staniszewski, former Google and Palantir professionals, ElevenLabs aims to revolutionize the world of voice cloning with AI. The startup has mastered the art of employing machine learning for voice cloning and synthesis in various languages, leading to its rapid rise in the competitive AI landscape.

“We raised the new money to cement ElevenLabs’ position as the global leader in voice AI research and product deployment,” said Staniszewski to TechCrunch.

The startup's flagship product, a browser-based speech generation app, enables users to create lifelike voices with customizable features such as intonation, emotion, and cadence. Initially gaining attention with a text-to-speech model for natural-sounding AI voices in English, ElevenLabs expanded its offering to support multiple languages, including Polish, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Hindi.

From text-to-speech to AI dubbing 

The platform's innovation extended to AI Dubbing, a speech-to-speech conversion tool enabling users to translate audio and video into 29 different languages while preserving the original speaker's voice and emotions.

With 41% of Fortune 500 companies among its clients, including prominent names like Storytel, The Washington Post, and TheSoul Publishing, ElevenLabs is making waves in various industries, from gaming to media and entertainment.

New features and future endeavors  

In its latest development, ElevenLabs introduces a Dubbing Studio workflow, offering professional users dedicated tools for dubbing entire movies in their preferred language. The new workflow also allows users to generate and edit transcripts, translations, and timecodes, providing enhanced control over production.

Looking ahead, ElevenLabs plans to launch an accessibility app for converting text or URLs into audio. Moreover, the startup is set to unveil a Voice Library, a marketplace where users can sell their AI-cloned voices for compensation. The marketplace aims to provide users with a diverse set of voice models while giving creators an opportunity to earn.

What are the biggest challenges? 

While ElevenLabs celebrates its unicorn status and innovative offerings, the startup faces challenges related to the responsible use of its technology. The platform has encountered instances of misuse, prompting the implementation of measures to detect and address abuse. In response to concerns raised by voice actors and potential threats to the industry, ElevenLabs is exploring a marketplace for voices, allowing creators to receive compensation for the use of their AI-generated voices.