Papercup, a British startup using artificial intelligence for video dubbing, has raised $20 million in a series A funding round from Comcast-owned Sky and others that will allow it to invest in bringing “more human-like voices” and “human emotion” to AI dubbing.
Octopus Ventures lead the investment round, joined by Local Globe, Sands Capital, Sky and Guardian Media Ventures, Entrepreneur First, BDMI, as well as such individual investors as Des Traynor, co-founder of business messaging company Intercom, and John Collison, co -founder of online payments firm Stripe. Papercup’s existing investors also include William Tunstall-Pedoe, whose team built Amazon’s Alexa, and Zoubin Ghahramani, senior research director at Google Brain and former chief scientist at Uber.
The capital injection will help the London-based company with its “goal of making the world’s video content watchable in any language through emotive and realistic synthetic voices and AI dubbing as it targets a $100 billion future market,” Papercup said.
“Around the world, billions of hours of video content are trapped in a single language,” Papercup, founded in 2017, says. Its customers can upload videos, choose a target language and then receive a translated version with a synthetic voiceover, which the company says is “indistinguishable from human voices.”
Its technology has been used by such media giants as Discovery, Sky News and Business Insider and to translate 30 seasons of Bob Ross’ show The Joy of Painting. “More than 300 million people have watched videos translated by Papercup over the past 12 months,” according to the firm.
“People retain up to 70 percent more information when watching videos dubbed in their native language,” said Papercup CEO Jesse Shemen. “With truly emotive cross-lingual AI dubbing, we can tackle all forms of content, making video and audio more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. This funding will allow us to double down on our promising research and break into new content categories.”
Zoe Reich, fund manager at Octopus Ventures, said: “Spotify has 3.2 million podcasts. YouTube 500 hours of video uploaded every minute. Discovery 100,000 hours of documentaries. CNN 4 million video assets. The volume of video and audio produced for consumption is rising exponentially, yet, only 1 percent is currently dubbed into multiple languages. Papercup’s use of AI to provide affordable, high quality dubbing can unlock that content for audiences around the world and, in doing so, drive a 100-fold expansion in the video and audio translation market with Papercup at the forefront.”