Synthetic speech tech startup LOVO raises $6.5 million Pre-Series A to develop the voice of Web 3.0
Web3 has taken the internet world by storm and there’s no sign of slowing down. The past few years have seen more people embrace the potential of a decentralized web following the debut of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
However, as we transition to the Web3 world, new tools are going to be needed in the new ecosystem. That’s why LOVO, a San Francisco-based synthetic speech startup is developing new AI voice technology for web 3.0.
Today, LOVO announced it has closed a $2 million extension to its pre-Series A round, which now totals $6.5 million. The extension was led by Hashed, a global crypto venture capital firm active in the blockchain gaming and NFT ecosystem, previously investing in Axie Infinity, The Sandbox, and Decentraland.
Other backers include PKO Investments, who are bringing on prominent angels like Yat Siu (Founder of Animoca Brands), Patrick Lee (Founder of Rotten Tomatoes), Holly Liu (Founder of Kabam), Kun Gao (Founder of Crunchyroll), Ray Chan (Founder of 9GAG), Matt Finick (Former CFO of ROBLOX & Marvel Studios), Daniel Wu (Actor of Into the Badlands & Tomb Raider), and Goodwater Capital.
The funding secured will help LOVO find new ways of bridging its AI voice technology to Web 3.0. It comes off the success of the Voiceverse NFT collection, a set of 8,888 NFTs that each represents a unique, AI-generated voice. Each Voiceverse NFT grants access to a unique AI voice model, which can be used to produce any kind of speech content or even used in real-time on voice chat platforms like Discord.
Voiceverse NFTs launched in late January 2022 and sold out after just 10 minutes of their public sale. They showcased the strength of LOVO’s synthetic speech technology, producing all 8,888 unique voices starting from a seed of 100 real recordings. The seed voices were licensed from LOVO’s partner voice actors, including Jonny Cruz and Charlet Chung, most notable for their role in the popular game Overwatch. All partner voice actors receive a significant royalty on each sale that occurs on NFT marketplaces like OpenSea.
The model pioneered by LOVO allows voice actors to finally take a much more significant cut of their work and the profits generated from it. Previously, voice actors were generally paid flat fees for their work and did not receive any windfall if the content they produced went on to generate billions in revenue.
One of the more interesting applications of voice within the metaverse is to combine the unique NFTs with existing profile picture NFTs and exclusive avatars such as BAYC. Adding a voice to the image makes the NFT a truly complete digital avatar, powered by advances in AI technology.
Going forward, LOVO plans to partner with crypto games and Metaverse worlds so that their holders can customize their virtual identity using Voice NFTs, and mint renowned celebrity voices as new Voice NFT collections.
“We’ve long had the freedom to change our appearances however we want online, but not with how we sound,” said Tom Lee, Co-Founder of LOVO. “With Voiceverse, people can now add another layer of personalization and pseudonymity, completing their persona for the metaverse. As a company that’s spent years researching and developing applications leveraging AI Voice & Synthetic Speech, this was a no-brainer — Voiceverse is simply a natural progression in line with LOVO’s vision and tech.”
“The vision and technical expertise behind Voiceverse is truly astounding,” said Simon Kim, CEO at Hashed. “We strongly believe that voice is one of the missing links in a truly digital and inclusive Metaverse, enabling new ways for people to interact with each other in virtual worlds.”
Co-founded by Tom Lee, LOVO, Inc. is a next-gen synthetic speech platform for education, marketing, entertainment, and overall audio content production. The company was founded by a team of AI and machine learning experts from U.C. Berkeley. The company has more than 40,000 users in 41 countries accessing the platform, creating 3 million pieces of voice content to date. As an alum of Berkeley SkyDeck accelerator, the company has working partnerships with Google, Intel, NVIDIA, AWS, and LG CNS.