Seattle startup DefinedCrowd lands $50M to help Mastercard, BMW, others improve their AI services

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Artificial intelligence services require mountains of reliable data to reach their full potential. Seattle startup DefinedCrowd is filling that need for Fortune 500 companies such as Mastercard and BMW — and investors like what they see so far.

The company announced a $50.5 million Series B round Tuesday to fuel growth of its AI training data technology platform as it aims to be “the world’s best data company for AI.”

Founded in 2015, DefinedCrowd uses a combination of machine learning with a crowdsourced community of 290,000 human contributors to train AI systems in 50 languages across 195 countries.

DefinedCrowd specializes in speech technology, natural language processing and computer vision, working with clients across industries such as automotive, energy, fintech, retail, media, and healthcare. Use cases include building voice assistants, improving facial recognition apps, automating utilities inspection, and more.

Part of the company’s secret sauce is its global reach. For example, companies that use voice assistants for customer service scenarios need artificial intelligence that can understand accents or various requests. DefinedCrowd uses its contributors from across the globe to help improve the quality of datasets the companies need to power their apps and services.

Last year it released a mobile app that lets human contributors “annotate” data for AI training.

Revenue spiked more than 650% in 2019, the company said, while headcount more than doubled to 265. DefinedCrowd plans to reach 500 employees this year, even with the ongoing economic crisis. It also plans to expand its footprint beyond existing offices in Seattle, Lisbon, Porto, and Tokyo, though it is fully remote for now amid the pandemic.

“We are taking the pulse of the economy and our clients, and their reaction to the development of the events, although we haven’t noticed any significant slowdown in our industry,” DefinedCrowd founder and CEO Daniela Braga said in a recent GeekWire story.

Braga is a former executive at VoiceBox Technologies and manager at Microsoft, where she spent seven years working on speech-related interfaces and technologies, including Cortana.

The investment marks the largest Series B round raised by a female-founded AI startup, according to the company. Investors in the round include new backers Semapa Next and Hermes GPE, and existing investors Evolution Equity Partners, Kibo Ventures, Portugal Ventures, Bynd Venture Capital, EDP Ventures and IronFire Ventures.

DefinedCrowd competes with several startups such as Scale AI, which raised $100 million last year at a $1 billion-plus valuation; Labelbox, which raised $25 million in February; and Figure Eight, which was acquired for $300 million last year. It is also similar to Mighty AI, another Seattle startup that was acquired by Uber this past June.

DefinedCrowd raised an $11.8 million round in July 2018. Total funding to date is $63.6 million. Previous investors include Amazon Alexa Fund, Sony Innovation Fund, and Mastercard. The company is ranked No. 31 on the GeekWire 200, our list of top Pacific Northwest tech startups.

“DefinedCrowd has quickly shown that they are able to solve AI’s most pressing problem — the need for continuous access to highly accurate data,” Semapa Next CEO Ricardo Pires said in a statement. “This has positioned the company as industry leaders, and we are excited to be part of it.”

Source: Geek Wire

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