Atlanta-based voice security startup Pindrop has raised US$60 million in Series D funding to bring security to internet of things (IoT) devices.
Singapore's EDBI, the corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board, is among the investors.
Voice interaction has become the de facto interface for human-to-machine communication, and Pindrop sees future possibilities for voice biometrics security.
Pindrop currently provides security and authentication for calls in banks, insurers, and retailers. It secures call centers and claims that 8 of the 10 largest banks and 5 of the 7 largest insurance companies in the United States are its customers.
Co-Founder and CEO Vijay Balasubramaniyan is looking at the future of voice as it moves beyond the voice channel and towards voice-enabled devices.
“This investment enables us to quickly boost our advancements in consumer IoT and voice technology while also continuing to strengthen our market-leading solutions for anti-fraud and authentication solutions for the global enterprise,“ he said in a media statement.
Investors' vote of confidence
The latest funding round has brought to US$212.8 million the total funding received by Pindrop since it was founded in 2011, according to Crunchbase,
European equity firm Vitruvian Partners led the funding round, which include other strategic investors such as Allegion Ventures, Cross Creek, Dimension Data, Singapore-based EDBI, and Goldman Sachs. Existing investors — CapitalG, IVP, Andreessen Horowitz, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and Citi Ventures also invested in the round.
David Nahama, Senior Partner at Vitruvian Partners, said the London-headquartered firm is confident that Pindrop is “poised for massive expansion given the company’s engineering expertise, pioneering efforts in machine learning technology, and patent portfolio.”
Pinboard sees the new infusion of capital would help advance its security and identity solutions for voice-assisted smart devices ranging from Google Home to smart locks to connected cars.
The mix of investors hints at the company’s intention to boost presence in different markets.
Manama said one of Vitruvian’s key goals for the investment is to see the company’s growth and expansion in key European markets.
In the Asia-Pacific, Singapore’s EDBI, a global technology investor, is expected to drive the company’s growth progress in Asian markets, according to Pindrop.
“Voice is fast emerging as the next generation human user interface (UI) with wide consumer and commercial applications, yet security remains a major concern,” said Chu Swee Yeok, Chief Executive and President of EDBI.
“Our investment in Pindrop is in line with Singapore’s trusted position as both a leading global financial center in Asia and a development hub for new human-centric digital services,” Chu added.
Meanwhile, global technology integrator Dimension Data, a subsidiary of Japan's NTT Docomo, is expected to “accelerate and scale Pindrop’s go to market strategy across the global enterprise.”
Pindrop said it will also be working with Allegion Ventures, a corporate venture fund of global security products and solutions provider Allegion plc.
“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.
“We’re excited about the future of voice technology and see Pindrop as a pioneer in the space. We look forward to working with Vijay and his team to accelerate the adoption of voice technology into new markets,” he added.
Beyond call center fraud
In an interview with Bloomberg in February 2017, Balasubramaniyan disclosed that US companies are losing US$10 billion to voice fraud a year.
"When we started the company, 1 in every 2000 calls into call centers are fraudulent, but now it has dropped to 1 in every 900," he said.
In September 2018, Pindrop released a voice intelligence report which finds, among others, that "with advancements in technology, the average fraudster's toolbox is more advanced than ever" because of developments in machine learning and AI technology.
“The opportunity for voice to serve as a primary interface is becoming a reality due to integrations with IoT devices, the takeoff of voice assistants and more,” Balasubramaniyan said in a media statement then.
“In turn, advanced voice technology is falling into the hands of bad actors and we’re seeing a dramatic spike in voice fraud,” he added.