Crowd Media to partner with ‘voice cloning’ AI firm Alforithmic Labs
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A partnership with London-based voice technology company Aflorithmic Labs will take Crowd Media’s (ASX:CM8) chatbot tech to the next level.
Crowd’s ‘question and answer’ chatbot has already processed over 180 million questions and answers.
With this partnership, and its previously announced partnership with Forever Holdings, Crowd and its partners will create a “Talking Head” joint venture that will allow consumers to engage with digital versions of famous historic figures and contemporary celebrities for one-on-one Facetime-type conservations.
Aflorithmic Labs operates a voice synthesis and ethical voice cloning platform that brands and publishers can use to create audio content personalised to each listener.
Crowd says Aflorithmic uses the latest AI voice synthesis technology to democratise the traditional audio production process, which requires expert knowledge, takes weeks and costs thousands of dollars.
“What we are doing here is lowering technical risk by engaging an experienced, specialised team, and simultaneously reducing timelines by increasing our execution resources” says Crowd Media chairman Steven Schapera.
“From the outside, Aflorithmic may be about AI, but it’s really about the human intelligence of their founders.
“Timo Kunz, Peadar Coyle and Bjorn Uhss (Aflorithmic’s founders) lead a team that are at the top of their game.
“Working together, I believe we can translate the most recent advances in AI research into commercial innovations that will completely reshape the way consumers engage in ecommerce. This is the silver bullet Crowd was looking for.”
Under the term of the agreement, Crowd will take a 10 per cent stake in Aflorithmic for £1 million ($1.77 million) — £750,000 in cash and £250,000 in CM8 shares.
Crowd will hold a $1.6 million capital at 5c a share raising to fund its investment in Aflorithmic.
The two companies will then form a joint venture, which Crowd will own 85 per cent stake in. The company will also have the option to buy out the other shareholders at an already agreed valuation.
Kunz, a Lancaster University PhD who serves as Alforithmic’s CEO, said that Crowd “has developed a strong and convincing vision of what the future of conversational commerce will look like and has managed to create a fantastic portfolio of best-of-breed synthetic media companies unlike we have ever seen.
“Together with Crowds and their partners, we see the opportunity to fundamentally redesign the way users experience digital commerce and to significantly shape the future of synthetic media as such.
“The Aflorthimic team is excited to embark with Crowd on this journey together.”
Crowd also announced that chief executive Domenic Carosa would be resigning, effective March 31, to spend more time with his CAD$83m market cap fintech company Banxa Holdings (TSX-v:BNXA), although he will remain as a non-executive director and significant shareholder.
Schapera and director Robert Quandt will both move into interim executive roles while the board searches for a new chief executive.
Chairman Steven Schapera commented that “Domenic has demonstrated honestly, integrity, and true grit during his time at Crowd. Under his leadership he now hands over a stable ship, a stronger balance sheet and – most importantly – a company that now has the capability to translate the most recent advances in AI research into innovations that will reshape the way consumers think about ecommerce experiences and move us closer to our $1 billion target.”
Carosa said it was a hard decision to leave Crowd as CEO, a company he co-founded in 2009, but the time was right.
Carosa will continue to consult on Crowd’s plans to target fintech partnerships this year as part of its Horizon 2 strategy.
This article was developed in collaboration with Crowd Media, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing. This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.