The integration of voice into consumer technologies has been a game changer for efficiency, ease and speed — the average person can type 60 words a minute, but speak about 150 words in the same amount of time. ComScore estimates that by 2020, about half of Internet searches will be conducted through voice.
With voice technology integrating into industries like banking, telecommunications, healthcare and more, security concerns are also rising. Imagine if a hacker could get into the smart lock securing your home, or your voice-activated car features.
Atlanta-based Pindrop, a voice authentication and fraud recognition company, already addresses the problem of voice fraud over phone calls for clients including 8 of the 10 largest banks and 5 of the 7 largest insurance companies in the U.S.
But now, with a $90 million funding infusion in a Series D led by London-based Vitruvian Partners, Pindrop intends to expand to the next frontier of voice: smart assistants and connected devices.
Pindrop, founded in 2011 by Vijay Balasubramaniyan, Mustaque Ahamad and Paul Judge, has built a technology that essentially assigns a unique identifier to each individual’s voice, like a voice fingerprint. It analyzes both the voice of the caller, as well as the actual call (location, carrier, device type) to provide a risk score for the caller and create a unique identity useful when the same individual calls again.
With this latest funding round, Pindrop will expand into that consumer IoT world of smart speakers, home devices, connected cars and more. As these tools increase market penetration, they also become more susceptible to fraud. Balasubramaniyan says the funding will enable the team to “quickly boost” their developments in this area.
To this end, another of the Series D backers is Allegion Ventures, the corporate VC arm of security company Allegion. Allegion’s security solutions, such as locks, exit devices and more, are sold in 130 countries. Their fund invests in startups they believe have the potential to advance security for their own product portfolio and at large.
Allegion indicated that Pindrop’s solution can complement their technology research into areas like biometrics and wireless connectivity.
“Voice-enabled interfaces are expanding how consumers interact with IoT devices in their everyday lives — as well as IoT manufacturers’ ability to offer smarter and stronger solutions,” said Allegion Ventures President Rob Martens.
Beyond expansion into IoT, the funding will fuel Pindrop’s spread globally, particularly in the UK, Europe and Asia. Pindrop indicates that they expect to see a triple digit growth in EMEA sales in 2019.
Many of their new investors are strategic in this regard, including Vitruvian as well as Singapore-based EDBI and Dimension Data, a subsidiary of Japan’s NTT Group.
“Our investment in Pindrop is in line with Singapore’s trusted position as both a leading global financial centre in Asia and a development hub for new human-centric digital services,” said Chu Swee Yeok, Chief Executive and President of EDBI, in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with Pindrop as a like-minded innovative player in Singapore’s vibrant AI ecosystem for their Asia expansion.”
Additional investors are Cross Creek, Goldman Sachs, and existing investors CapitalG, IVP, Andreessen Horowitz, GV and Citi Ventures. Pindrop’s last funding round was a $75 million Series C in 2017, and with this round has raised just over $200 million.
The company shared some impressive growth statistics, including a 137 percent compounded annual growth rate in revenue over the last three years. Balasubramaniyan told TechCrunch that he anticipated they would be profitable in the first quarter of next year.
Pindrop currently employs about 300 and will grow by about 30 percent in 2019, according to company representatives.