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Boston-based call center analytics company Cogito today announced a $37 million funding round led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, Salesforce Ventures, and OpenView. Cogito will use the infusion of capital to improve its software’s customization options and make its user guidance “richer” and “more contextually aware,” cofounder and CEO Joshua Feast said.
The startup, which was cofounded by MIT computer scientist Alex Pentland, develops software that performs emotional and sentiment analysis on call center conversations using natural language processing. It measures energy level, pace, tone of speech, and other factors in real time to capture and interpret speakers’ intents, helping them recognize mistakes and make corrections on the fly. (For example, if an agent is speaking too quickly, Cogito’s software might suggest that they slow down or engage the customer with a question.)
“It’s clearly great for consumers, because we’re helping provide them better experiences,” Feast told VentureBeat in an interview. “It’s also good for the rep because it allows them to be valued for their soft skills. And it’s better for organizations because it helps them provide better customer experience.”
Cogito’s customers include MetLife, Aetna, and Humana, each of which employs thousands of customer service agents. But the software has also been used outside of the customer service sector.
The startup worked with the Department of Veterans to assist military veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and partnered with the Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA) — the investment arm of the Department of Defense — from 2007 to 2011. It developed a platform that enabled doctors to track veterans’ overall mental health and to pinpoint events like homelessness and other warning signs. And since 2016, in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, Cogito has provided a mobile app to members of the health system’s MoodNetwork — a crowdsourced research network for individuals with bipolar disorder and depression — that analyzes audio recordings from patients to track their well-being.
Cogito, which employs more than 110 people, has raised $64 million since it spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Human Dynamics Lab in 2007, and its revenue has tripled year-over-year.
It has competition, though. Israeli startup Beyond Verbal’s software analyzes voice recordings for signs of emotions — like anxiety, arousal, or anger. And machine learning company Mattersight uses voice analytics to deliver personalized advertisements and bots to Amazon Echo, Google Home, and other voice-controlled devices.
The global emotion recognition and sentiment analysis market is projected to reach $3.8 billion by 2025, according to research firm Tractica.
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