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First Plus invests in Voice AI startup AI Rudder in US$50 Million Series B Funding

AI RUDDER, which is working on voice artificial intelligence (AI) for businesses, has closed a US$50 million Series B funding round led by Tiger Global and Coatue.

Other new investors included Cathay Innovation, First Plus and VenturesLab. Existing investors Sequoia Capital India and Huashan Capital also participated in the round.

AI Rudder is developing technologies in speech recognition, text-to-speech and natural language understanding. "When these 3 technologies work together, we can build a voice AI robot that can talk to human beings just like another human," said co-founder Kun Wu.

Businesses typically use call centres or customer service teams, but these worker-intensive operations are difficult to scale up and have availability at any time of the day.

While its technology will not replace call centres, AI Rudder helps businesses to operate more efficiently because a large part of call centre operations can be automated by AI, said Wu. Calls can be differentiated based on how much human interaction is needed.

Wu, who founded AI Rudder in 2019, worked in New York-listed Chinese mobile internet company CooTek for about 9 years before moving to Singapore to start his own business. At CooTek, he worked on AI technology across different applications.

AI Rudder has over 200 clients, the company said. "In the first 2 and a half years, we saw more traction in the market when it comes to use cases in financial institutions, especially when it comes to use cases such as loan payments, reminders and also telemarketing campaigns," said Wu.

The platform supports more than 15 languages, and plans are in place to add 7 more to better support multinational companies.

AI Rudder has about 150 employees, up from 30 in June 2020. It wants to use part of the funding to double its headcount.

Nicolas du Cray, partner at Cathay Innovation, said in a statement: "Once we discovered that a number of our portfolio companies rely heavily on their technology to deliver game changing customer experiences, we had to back the company."




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