​Salesforce Ventures part of US$40 million investment into Soul Machines

Virtual assistant company works to reimage how machines interact with humans

New Zealand company, Soul Machines, has raised US$40 million in series B investment to help with its quest to re-imagine how humans connect with machines. 

Soul Machines is an AGI Research company developing an autonomous animation platform aimed at humanising brands and the ways people engage with them. The latest investment round was led by Temasek from Singapore, with participation from Lakestar, a European Venture Fund, and Salesforce Ventures, along with further investment from existing investors Horizons Ventures, University of Auckland Inventors Fund and others from earlier rounds. 

With the funds, Soul Machines plans to continue expanding globally with specific focus on research and development and increasing its operating footprint around the world to meet growing demand.

Soul Machines describes its technology as lifelike, emotionally responsive 'digital heroes with personality and character' that talk to humans face-to-face. The company has deployed its HumanOS platform and virtual assistants for a range of global brands in retail, automotive, banking and finance including Procter & Gamble, Bank ABC, The Royal Bank of Scotland and more. Key initiatives in the education and healthcare fields are also underway.

Among its avatars is Nadia, a virtual human voiced by Cate Blanchett and trialled by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in 2018. Nadia was designed to operate across multiple channels from the outset to create a consistent interaction for clients, with the face being just one representation. Another example of Soul Machines’ virtual humans in action is Sophie, a pilot customer interaction project for Air New Zealand.

Soul Machines was founded by Academy Award winner, Mark Sagar, and serial entrepreneur, Greg Cross, in 2016 and spun out of the University of Auckland. 

“We have enjoyed getting to know and work with the teams at Temasek, Lakestar and Salesforce Ventures and believe they are the perfect partners to help as we continue to expand and grow our business, technology and client base globally,” Cross said. “We are very grateful for the continued support from Horizons Ventures who are highly valued partners that understand how great technology businesses are built." 

Salesforce Ventures head of Australia, Rob Keith, said it is proud to announce Salesforce Ventures’ investment in Soul Machines because it has an obsessive focus on improving customer experience by using artificial intelligence technology in new ways. 

“We look forward to continuing to work with Soul Machines as it scales and realises its global aspirations,” he stated.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.   

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