CloudFactory, a Durham-based startup that connects remote workers around the world with employment on AI-based data projects, has announced a $65 million growth equity funding investment from FTV Capital and Weatherford Capital.
“Our investments in demand generation and business development will help grow CloudFactory’s visibility with would-be AI disruptors,” CEO Mark Sears tells Hypepotamus. “We plan to focus on increasing market awareness and sales capacity to attract more clients globally.”
As artificial intelligence and machine learning become more popular, companies seeking a foothold in the industry can’t process the volumes of data needed to feed their algorithms on their own — so they must turn to skilled employees for help.
“Talent is equally distributed around the world, but opportunity is not,” Sears told Hypepotamus last April. “How can we take an amazing starting point of someone with a ton of talent and desire to join the global economy? How can we use technology and training and systems to really bridge the gap?”
CloudFactory’s tech-savvy global workforce provides workers in the developing world opportunities to connect to the digital economy. This workforce has been trained to use more than 100 different annotation tools.
Corporate clients can create WorkStreams to outsource projects by subscribing to a monthly capacity of work hours. Once completed, clients gain access to CloudFactory’s platform and a dedicated managed workforce trained by the company. “It’s all about driving the highest-quality data to our clients in an easy, flexible way that scales,” says Sears.
In addition to expansion and business development, CloudFactory plans to use this funding to focus on investment in workforce development and technological capability.
“We plan to continue improving growth and educational opportunities for employees to rise up as leaders in their communities, reach their potential and grow their skill sets to aid in career advancement,” Sears says. “Additionally, we will seek to grow our presence in existing markets where it makes strategic sense to do so.”
In a statement, FTV Capital partner Alex Mason highlighted CloudFactory’s ability to stay competitive in a complex and rapidly growing AI marketplace.
“CloudFactory is poised for tremendous growth across many industry verticals where executives are clamoring for data labeling capabilities that meet superior quality standards and are consistently delivered,” Mason said. “We are excited to partner with CloudFactory’s proven management team who have the unique vision and exemplary execution skills to achieve their business goals and successfully fulfill their mission.”
CloudFactory has grown to more than 300 corporate employees and about 4,500 part-time cloud workers across four continents, and the company plans to use this current round of funding to fill its 50 open positions over the course of the new year.
The Durham-based startup now has offices in Raleigh, N.C., as well as Nepal, Nairobi, and the U.K. The company last raised a $7.3 million Series B funding round in 2017.