SoundHound today announced it has closed a $100 million funding round to accelerate the international growth of its Houndify voice AI platform, adopt new languages, open additional offices, and put its Hound voice assistant in devices from home appliances to cars. Investors in the round include Tencent, Hyundai, Orange S.A., and Daimler AG.
Developers have chosen the Houndify platform to place voice control in more than 1,000 devices, bypassing options like Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. SoundHound is currently used to power conversational interfaces for Hyundai cars, the Nvidia Drive autonomous vehicle platform, Bunn coffee makers, and home robot Kuri from Mayfield Robotics. The Hound voice assistant can also be used for free via SoundHound iOS and Android apps.
“There are two angles to the funding: One is the great deal of resources it would bring to us,” SoundHound founder and CEO Keyvan Mohajer told VentureBeat in an interview. “The other angle is [that] all of the investors in the round were strategic investors, which means it’s not just traditional VCs making investments; these are companies that have successful products and a huge user base, and they clearly understand that voice AI is a very important strategic area for them.”
SoundHound’s goal, Mohajer said, is to bring its voice AI platform to every device. In addition to technology the company believes gives it an edge, Mohajer thinks SoundHound’s advantage is that it does not require brands to say the company’s name every time they want to use voice control, the way they would with voice services extended by Alexa or Google Assistant.
“Any company that has a successful product and brand doesn’t want that. They don’t want their user and brand to be hijacked by these companies. Our platform allows our partners to integrate a better technology, maintain their brand and users, and differentiate and innovate,” he said.
SoundHound is based in San Francisco and plans to open new offices in China, France, and Germany, as well as growing existing offices in the U.S., Europe, and South Korea. Since the company was established in 2005, it has raised a total of $215 million.