Soundhound lost the war against Shazam. Now, it’s raising $75 million for a post-music pivot.
Is there life after the brutalities of the music industry? The answer is yes — if you’ve got the right pivot.
Enter Soundhound, an app we thought was roadkill after getting crushed by Shazam. But it turns out that audio recognition has a lot of different ‘applications,’ so to speak. Even those that make money.
Just today, Soundhound confirmed a seriously juicy raise. That is, $75 million, thanks to cash drops by NVIDIA and Samsung Catalyst Fund.
Actually, that adds to a previous round of $40 million, none of which has to be paid back.
Why all the cash?
Soundhound has been around for 10 years. But the company largely struggled under the shadow of Shazam, a music recognition app that always maintained a sizable lead. These days, Shazam is basically a verb when it comes to on-the-fly song recognition. They won.
But, Soundhound shifted their energies towards artificial intelligence, specifically around voice recognition. Just switch ‘music’ with ‘voice,’ and that’s how you raise $115 million.
These days, Soundhound is better known as ‘Hound,’ which aims to capture the explosive category of voice-powered mobile. And other applications like smart TVs, Wifi-powered stereo systems, and sexbots.
Of course, there’s extremely stiff competition in this space, most notably from Google Voice and Siri. But Soundhound has been perfecting their craft for a decade, and is probably angling for a juicy exit.
And this discussion is hardly complete without mentioning Alexa. That’s the new 800 lb. gorilla on your kitchen counter, and a massive player in voice-activated intelligence.
Soundhound’s secret weapon.
That level of competition is enough to make any investor run. But there’s a secret weapon: independence. Part of the problem with Google Voice, for example, is that it belongs to Google. And those proprietary disadvantages are equally problematic with Apple and Amazon, both of whom are consummate personal data hounds. They control too much, and don’t play nice on a foreigner’s smartphone.
This hound, however, aims to power platforms on the backend. That is, without data collection or a broader agenda. Of course, that’s refreshingly independent for a mega-player like Samsung, until Hound gets acquired.
Check out the Hound Voice Search & Assistant here. Not, ‘hear’.