London startup SpinVox raised $100 million today in a round of financing that values the company at $500 million. That’s big money for a company that translates voicemails into text, but SpinVox appears to have achieved some valuable intellectual property associated with its speech-to-text software. Currently it can transcribe in French, Spanish, English and German; the funding will help it add Italian, Portuguese and Arabic to its repertoire.
The funding will also go toward expanding the infrastructure required to serve carriers who offer the service. About a dozen carriers currently offer voicemail-to-text through SpinVox, and company spokesman Jonathan Simnett says it will add a dozen more this year, including more in the U.S. The carriers currently offering the service have about 100 million subscribers between them. SpinVox has 6 million.
The whopping valuation makes a bit more sense if you consider that players ranging from Microsoft (it bought TellMe) to Nuance Communications (it’s bought a lot) are all trying to crack the speech-to-text market as a way to improve navigation and search on mobile phones. IBM and Google are also making plays in this area while startups including Jott, Yap and Vlingo have offerings as well.