Tuesday, September 27
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Rephrase.ai Lands New Investments to Grow Its Synthetic Media Platform

Rephrase.ai, a self-proclaimed synthetic media production platform, today announced it has raised $10.6 million in a Series A funding round led by Red Ventures with participation from Silver Lake and 8VC . CEO Ashray Malhotra says the plan is to invest the new funds in growing the workforce, with a particular focus on Rephrase’s engineering, data science, product and commercial teams.

Rephrase was founded in 2019 by Malhotra, Shivam Mangla and Nisheeth Lahoti. From their college days, Lahoti wanted to create a “text-to-movie” engine that could take a script or storyboard as input and generate a movie, Malhotra told TechCrunch. This proved too ambitious, so instead the Rephrase team developed an AI system that creates avatars of human actors by mapping their faces, syncing their lip movements, and mimicking tone and tone. the tenor of their voices.

“With video becoming the default, what’s hampering video creation today is the time and cost spent on production,” Malhotra said via email. “That’s the problem Rephrase aims to solve.”

Using Rephrase’s platform, a customer can select an avatar, background, and voice, and enter text that the avatar will recite. They can then export that video for use in sales tools.

The technology is not particularly new. Startups like Synthesia, Neosapience, and Hour One rely on similar AI systems to create custom videos for a range of use cases. New rivals include China-based Surreal, which aims to develop an AI video editing system that can animate not just faces, but clothing and motion as well. Elsewhere, video and voice-focused companies including Respeecher, Papercup, Resemble AI and Deepdub have launched AI dubbing tools for shows and movies. Beyond the startups, Nvidia has developed technology that alters video in a way that takes an actor’s facial expressions and combines them with new language.

Reformulate.ai

An ad created by Rephrase.ai. Picture credits: Reformulate

However, Rephrase has been aggressive in pursuing high profile corporate deals, with a client base that includes teams from Johnson & Johnson, Amazon and Castrol. Mondelez India leveraged the platform to register an avatar of Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan, which was used to create personalized advertisements in local stores across India.

“Since our sales team has grown, we have focused on building vertical solutions for major industries such as fintech, BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) and direct-to-consumer. Most of our revenue comes from large companies with over 1,000 employees, so this is a priority area for us,” Malhotra said. “Rephrase’s growth comes at a time when many industries are looking for automated video solutions and for business functions, especially sales and marketing. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down traditional video production. Because true video creation is a tedious process, we are actually seeing greater demand for creative automated video.

Synthetic media platforms raise all sorts of tricky ethical questions, of course, with the rise of deepfakes and manipulated media. But Malhotra points to the company’s usage policy, which prohibits the use of avatars created by Rephrase, based on the content of the videos in which they star. Customers – who must go through an approval process – control the copyright of any synthetic media they create.

“Rephrase has designed its policies such that the creation of digital avatars is ethical under the individual consent of the data subject and is based on first-hand data from the data subject,” Malhotra said.

San Francisco-based Rephrase has a team of 35 people and plans to hire about 35 more by the end of the year. To date, the startup has raised $12.5 million; Malhotra claims he has about two years of track.