Bulletins

New funding for an avatar startup? Get ready for deepfake business calls

AI startup Synthesia scored its second funding round this year, a cool $50 million this time around

a microsoft teams call with a mix of live attendees and digital avatars

Here come the business avatars.

Image: Microsoft

We’ve all seen TV commercials and gotten that sneaking suspicion that the voice in the spot doesn’t belong to the person mouthing the sales pitch. And, sure we’re used to talking back to robotic voice bots when getting our checking account balances. But we’re bound to get that feeling at work, too, now that AI avatar startup Synthesia has closed a $50 million Series B round of funding, as reported by TechCrunch.


Synthesia is not a medical condition, though its technology could be used some day in an ad for a drug to cure it. The “synthetic media” company helps enterprises such as Ernst & Young create customized video messages featuring their AI-based avatars. Rather than merely sending an emailed pitch, a sales lead might receive a video message featuring a human-like avatar asking for a coffee meeting.

People can upload video or voice files to use as the foundation for an avatar-hosted presentation, or use the company’s ready-made “free-to-use AI presenters.” The company’s off-the-shelf avatars are based on real-life paid actors who consented to use of their likenesses. “The base video footage is then taken through our AI system which creates new videos from text,” according to a Synthesia FAQ.

If you needed any indication that all-things-AI are hot, Synthesia already scored an earlier Series A round of $12.5 million just this April. And, there are similar startups out there vying for attention from enterprise customers. D-ID, which lets people turn still photos into “speaking portraits” has already worked with companies such as consumer packaged goods giant Mondelez.

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