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Transcription firm Verbit raises $157 million, becomes Israel’s newest unicorn

Funding will pave the way for IPO and 200 new jobs, says the 4-year-old startup; clients include CNN, CNBC and Harvard

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Verbit's team, June 2021 (Eric Sultan)
Verbit's team, June 2021 (Eric Sultan)

Israel’s Verbit, a hybrid AI-based and human transcription and captioning software company, said Tuesday it has secured $157 million in Series D funding, giving it a unicorn valuation of over $1 billion. The startup is four years old.

The funding round was led by Sapphire Ventures, alongside new investors such as Third Point, More Capital, Omer Cygler, Azura, and ICON fund, as well as existing investors such as Stripes, Vertex Ventures and Vertex Growth, HV Capital, Oryzn Capital, Viola Ventures, and ClalTech, the company said in a statement.

Verbit’s total funding now exceeds $250 million, including debt financing from the Silicon Valley Bank, the statement said.

Following its recent acquisition of VITAC, the largest provider of captioning products and solutions in the US, Verbit has become a key player in the professional transcription and captioning market, the statement said. Its services are used by more than 1,500 customers across the legal, media, education, government, and corporate sectors, including CNBC, CNN, FOX, Harvard University, Stanford University, and Kaltura.

Verbit CEO and co-founder Tom Livne (Shlomi Yossef)

With some $100 million in annual recurring revenue, Verbit said it is continuing to quickly expand into new verticals. The latest funding round will be used to further improve and develop new products, add 200 new business and product jobs, support research and development, and help prepare Verbit for an initial public offering of shares, the statement said.

The company, founded in 2017 by CEO Tom Livne, Eric Shellef and Kobi Ben-Tzvi, has developed a service that combines artificial intelligence and human input to provide a more accurate, faster and cheaper transcription offering.

Traditional transcription companies rely on manual work, resulting in high costs and long turnaround times. Fully automatic transcription only reaches an average accuracy rate of some 70 percent, while customers usually need a high-quality transcription, the company said.

Verbit’s solution integrates automatic speech recognition algorithms with the human touch. Not only do humans go over the transcription and make the necessary corrections, but all corrections made by human transcribers contribute to and improve the Verbit algorithm through machine learning technologies.

“With their hybrid transcription platform bringing together innovative technology and a network of over 30,000 transcribers, Verbit has forged a winning combination of AI and human intelligence,” said Jai Das, president and partner at Sapphire Ventures. “The company has had unparalleled growth akin to some big, well-known companies out there and we’re very impressed by the team’s ability to achieve a unicorn valuation in just four years.”

The company  has offices in New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv, and Kyiv and has more than 30,000 freelance transcribers and more than 350 employees worldwide.

“The transcription market has been ripe for innovation. That’s the initial reason why I founded Verbit,” said Livne the CEO and founder of Verbit.

“The shift to remote work and accelerated digitization amid the pandemic has been a major catalyst for this $30 billion industry and has further driven Verbit’s already-rapid development,” he said. “Securing this new funding is yet another milestone that brings us closer to becoming a public company, which will further fuel our expansion through strategic acquisitions and investments.”

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