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Fireflies, an AI voice assistant that joins videoconferencing meetings to take notes, today announced that it raised $14 million in series A funding led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from Canaan Partners and angel backers. It plans to use the proceeds to expand its platform and acquire new customers, as well as to grow the size of Fireflies’ workforce.
Remote work is on the rise. With the need to manage distributed workforces, organizations have ramped up their usage of videoconferencing platforms. Global Market Insights predicts that the videoconferencing market will grow 19% between 2020 and 2026, reaching $50 billion in value by 2026. Zoom alone now hosts 45 billion minutes of webinars a year.
Aiming to address a few of the pain points of videoconferencing, Fireflies provides note-taking tools and deep learning technologies like AI-powered transcriptions. Once invited to a meeting, the company’s virtual agent begins transcribing in real time, with a search feature that lets users filter for action items and other key moments.
Krish Ramineni and Sam Udotong founded Fireflies in July 2016. The company launched its text-to-speech transcription service three years ago in October 2018, before the pandemic.
“While I was a product manager at Microsoft, I saw the potential of chat based conversational AI. However, the same use cases for voice were limited,” Ramineni told VentureBeat via email. “The deep learning models weren’t being applied to voice intelligence systems in the workplace and enterprise. Voice AI was getting smarter, more accurate, and ubiquitous. We saw the rapid rise of smart home devices like Alexa and Google Assistant. At the same time, we’re spending dozens of hours in meetings at work everyday. This felt like a massive opportunity to bridge that gap and change the way we work inside meetings.”
To use Fireflies, attendees send an invite to the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” or have Fireflies auto-join calls via a Google or Outlook calendar. On the calendar invite, as long as there’s a webconferencing URL, Fireflies’ agent joins and sends a recording and transcript a few minutes after the meeting. Recordings remain visible in Fireflies’ web dashboard for posterity, and Fireflies can auto-populate customer relationship management software with meeting logs, recordings, and notes.
Fireflies competes with a number of transcription solutions on the market, including Reason8, Otter, and Voicea. Like Fireflies, Voicea integrates with calendars and uses an AI assistant to capture notes. And Otter offers video captioning for platforms like Zoom, in addition to a range of organizational tools.
But perhaps because of its generous free plan, Fireflies says it’s seen substantial growth during the pandemic. The company’s entry-level account supports commenting, playlists, and calendar integrations and offers up to 3,000 minutes of team storage. The $10 per month Pro plan and $19 per month Business plan add minutes and features like topic tracking, custom speech models, API access, and admin controls.
Given the continued interest in videoconferencing, Fireflies is likely poised for growth. (Revenue grew 3 times in the last year as Fireflies’ AI assistant took notes for over 2 million people across 200,000 organizations, according to Ramineni.) Video calls have made a lot of business travel nonessential, with 43% of frequent business travelers telling consultancy Oliver Wyman they expect to travel less even after the COVID-19 pandemic. And nearly 9 in 10 employees say that videoconferences reduce the time it takes to complete their projects, resulting in operational savings thanks to more efficient collaboration.
“When we first designed Fireflies, we wanted it to work with the ecosystem of tools that we use every single day,” Ramineni said. “Deep work is about streamlining repetitive tasks, so that people don’t lose context while switching between meetings, calendars, emails, and collaboration apps. To be able to orchestrate and automate complex business workflows with just the sound of our voice is something we hope to make possible for every person in the workplace. It starts with democratizing voice-powered AI for everyday use cases like meeting notes.”
The series A round brings 50-employee Fireflies’ total raised to around $19 million to date. The company previously closed a $5 million seed round in October 2019 led by Canaan Partners; that round saw participation from angel investors including former Slack CPO April Underwood, former Slack CMO Bill Macaitis, and Salesforce director of search Susan Kimberlin.
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