This AI Startup Is Now a ‘Unicorn’

By: Anneken Tappe · January 26, 2024 · Reading Time: 2 minutes


AI that can talk is no longer science fiction. AI-generated voices are everywhere now, thanks to companies like ElevenLabs.

The startup is known for letting its users use AI to create lifelike voices. Freemium users can enter text for one of ElevenLabs’ AI-generated voices to read back, with the ability to adjust intonation, emotion, and cadence. For paying customers, ElevenLabs takes it one step further, allowing them to upload voice samples the technology can mimic, in effect “cloning” a real person’s voice.

Use Cases and Criticism

ElevenLabs’ technology has a wide variety of use cases, from recording audiobooks to dubbing films to creating voices for marketing materials or video games. The startup’s internal data says 41% of Fortune 500 companies use its product.

But not everyone is in favor of AI voices. Some voice actors claim the company used samples of their voices without consent — reminiscent of the copyright issue alleged by the New York Times’ lawsuit against OpenAI — and there are concerns about the ability to mimic voices.

New Funding

Even so, the startup just raised another $80 million from prominent investors including Andreessen Horowitz and former GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, bringing its valuation above $1 billion. The company plans to more than double its staff by year-end as well.

Whether the funding will give ElevenLabs an edge over competitors like Replica Studios — which has taken a more proactive approach to accommodating the voice-acting community — remains to be seen.

Read more reporting here .

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