SpinVox Nets $100M and a $500M Valuation

24 Comments

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.

24 Comments

Lee Dorfman

Spinvox’ announcement has not only garnered the attention of this relatively new industry, but it also helps inform and educate the consumer that this type of service even exists – which will essentially benefit all providers of voicemail-to-text service. Although Quicktate is a relatively new player (born from iDictate, a 10-year-old transcription company), the service is still free and is available in both English and Spanish. htpp://quicktate.com

Richard

$100m for a call centre in South Africa that listens to your voice messages , types them out and sends them by sms is A LOT of cash ! Particularly as in my experience many of the messages that come through are far from accurate.

ugo

One Voice Technologies will be at CTIA and INTEL IDF this week as the premier Voice Control Interface for the Intel Atom MID’s.

ONEV has signed aggreements with INTEL, Motorola, Telmex, MTNL government of INdia, etc…

The ONEV products are SECURE, globally patented and cover a broad spectrum of Network to personal device/PC applications….

From what I can garner about SPinVOx, they dont answer the phone and their tech involves third party operator who actually transcrible personal voicemails at times. This practice is a violation to my righht to proivacy as a US citizen.

Jose Miguel Cansado

I fully agree with ol’ yeller. He knows the telco world, and how demanding telcos are with their suppliers. RFP to the Vocemail vendor to quote for the feature is straight forward. $2-$3 per user is what telcos will be looking for. Sell the solution as a service, with some revenue sharing with the carrier, might be something Jott, SimulScribe or Spinbox are better positioned than voicemail suppliers. Some Telcos are being lazy to build their own applications, and may just rely on a revenue sharing solution. Still, $500M valuation seems hard to justify.

Ofer

Technology vs. Service

$100M round is great news for SpinVox. But is also an indication about their technology basis or lack of technology. They need the money to fuel their service which is great. However, people should not confuse this with a working technology for speaker independent transcription.

See further on this issue at http://speechanalytics.blogspot.com/

Vince

wow..huge money! this service will surely benefit markets that are not text savvy– like the US.

For other markets, typing a text message is still the preferred way of sending a message.

lastly, i think its a lot easier to learn how to text message than a machine trying to learn how to convert your voice into text. ;) but, thats just me.. :)

John

There is also a huge difference between the robustness of the various providers in this space. It is not simple. Ever actually used voice recognition? Think how good it would be over a mobile phone line….That is the challenge.

John Pollard

Just to add a little to Jamie’s post:

I think Ol’yeller is partially correct: it’s never been easier to plug different telephony elements together. And it is true that there are many providers of ASR solutions. But there’s a big chasm between that, and actually delivering something in the speech to text space that’s seamless and deals with real usage scenarios with high quality. We’re all working very hard to do that, and I invite you to try Jott — which is free — and see how we’re doing.

John

John Pollard
Founder and CEO
Jott.com

jamessiminoff

ol’ yeller,

I wish that I lived in your simple world. However in the world of supplying text to speech things are not that easy. The major voicemail providers have not been able to roll this product and they have made attempts. The work that Spinvox, SimulScribe and Jott are doing in this field involves a lot of IP and complex operational issues.
You will see over time that these services will be offered by many different providers but there will only be a handful of suppliers as the technical expertise and barriers to entry are very high.

If anyone wants to try SimulScribe free for 30 days to see how the product works click on, https://apps.simulscribe.com/signup/r/13251.

Jamie
James Siminoff, Founder
SimulScribe

ol' yeller

Text to speech for voicemail is a great product and will be a feature with most voicemails soon. Once you use it you won’t go back.

However, this is fundamentally just a voicemail feature. A $500M valuation is ludicrous from the standpoint that essentially all one needs to do is license any one of numerous comercially available voice recognition engines, hook up some servers to voicemail and voila you are done. There are countless start-ups doing this.

Unless spinvox has incredible IP, which I can only imagine will be hard to defend if it’s around the concept, they’re worth $100M to a voicemail provider at best.

If I am a wireless or wireline provider, I’ll just submit an RFP to my voicemail providers, who will gladly sell me this feature for a nominal additional monthly fee.

jamessiminoff

Kaiyzen, thanks for adding us to the list. However I beg to differ on the language depth. We have been working on the voice recognition for a very long time and our efforts are run by Bill Scholz who is a very highly regarded person in this area. Spinvox is a great company and their second round which now totals their investments at $200 million really validates the potential size of this overall industry.

Jamie

James Siminoff, Founder
SimulScribe

Kaiyzen

Dont forget SimulScribe.., they are a vmail to text company. They sell to consumers as well as licensing to third parties to resell. They dont have the language depth that SpinVox does but their service is pretty good.

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