Facetime conversations with your favourite celebrity could soon be a reality with eCommerce and artificial intelligence company Crowd Media (ASX: CM8) securing a vital partnership that will provide access to the best-in-class voice cloning technology.
The partnership is with Europe-based synthetic media company Aflorithmic Labs (AFLR) and has been entered into alongside a strategic investment from Crowd that has acquired a 10% stake in AFLR for AUD $1.77 million, a move that significantly reduces Crowd’s R&D risk if they were to pursue the voice cloning tech themselves.
“What we are doing here is lowering technical risk by engaging an experienced, specialised team, and simultaneously reducing timelines by increasing our execution resources” said Crowd Media Chairman, Steven Schapera.
“From the outside, Aflorithmic may be about AI, but it’s really about the human intelligence of their Founders: having spent a lot of time with many experts, internationally, in this space it is my view that Timo Kunz, Peadar Coyle and Bjorn Uhss 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.
“The vulnerable part of our plan was finding the right team to bolt all the pieces together, and Aflorithmic is the silver bullet I was looking for”
Leveraging ALFR’s AI voice synthesis and audio production automation, ALFR brings the audio tech that will replicate a celebrity’s accent, tone and mannerisms as if the celebrity were on the other end of a call. The actual content of what the cloned celebrity says will be driven by Crowd’s AI-driven chatbot technology which has answered more than 180 million user-submitted questions via text-only mediums.
“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,” said Aflorithmic CEO, Timo Kunz.
“Together with Crowd 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 Aflorithmic team is excited to embark with Crowd on this journey together.”
The immersive experience of a fan conversing with their favourite celebrities will come together once combined with visual elements being brought to the project by Forever Holdings, Zoe01 and Uneeq as Crowd previously announced. This visual element is powered by 3D imaging as Crowd recently showed on social media.
Core to rising demand for Crowd’s AI technology is the rapid increase in celebrity connectivity brought upon by social media. As the influencer marketing industry continues to grow rapidly, driven by endorsement deals and social media, influencers have limited time for 1-on-1 conversations. However, that is tipped to change in 2022 when Crowd commercialises their platform to rapidly produce talking heads of celebrities and influencers.
Having brought this vision of conversational commerce and a $2.7m investment to Crowd Media in 2019 when he saw the sheer potential of their chatbot technology, Schapera will lead the charge in the interim.
He takes over following the resignation of CEO, Domenic Carosa who co-founded Crowd Media in 2009 and has been integral to the growth of their chatbot technology. Although Carosa departs to focus on cryptocurrency company Banxa (TSXV: BNXA) which he founded, he will retain a non-executive position and a 6% share in the Company.
Carosa will also consult on Crowd’s 2021 strategy to expand their brand partnership network into fintech and insuretech services, of which he is well-connected internationally and widely-known as an early Bitcoin investor.
“Domenic has demonstrated honesty, integrity, and true grit during his time at Crowd,” said Schapera.
“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 $1B target.”
In an executive capacity, Schapera is best known as the Founder of BECCA Cosmetics which he exited in 2016 via a $300 million sale to Estee Lauder prior to his venture into Crowd Media.
In December 2020, Emerald Financial released an Analyst report on Crowd Media which can be viewed here.
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