Verbit raises $157m at over $1b valuation

Tom Livne / Photo: Shlomi Yosef , Globes

The transcription and captioning company is the latest Israel-founded startup to become a unicorn.

Israel AI-powered transcription and captioning platform Verbit today announced it has completed a $157 million Series D financing round led by Sapphire Ventures with new investors including Third Point, More Capital, Big-Tech 50 (which invested $2 million), Omer Cygler, Azura, and ICON fund, and existing investors such as Stripes, Vertex Ventures and Vertex Growth, HV Capital, Oryzn Capital, Viola Ventures, and ClalTech. Verbit's total funding now exceeds $250 million, including debt financing from the Silicon Valley Bank. The round was completed at a valuation of over $1 billion making Verbit the latest Israel-founded startup to achieve unicorn status.

Following its recent acquisition of US captioning company VITAC, Verbit has more than 1,500 customers in the legal, media, education, government, and corporate sectors, including CNBC, CNN, FOX, Harvard University, Stanford University, and Kaltura. Revenue has grown six-fold over the past year and Verbit now has nearly $100 million in annual recurring revenue.

Verbit was founded in 2017 by CEO Tom Livne, Eric Shellef and Kobi Ben Tzvi. Shellef and Ben Tzvi were technical people who built the platform and are today no longer active in the company and have sold their holdings. Verbit has 350 employees, including 170 in Israel and a global network of 30,000 freelance transcribers in 120 countries. The new funds will be used to hire 200 new people, support R&D and prepare for an IPO next year.

Livne said that Verbit is exploring options for a conventional IPO on Wall Street or a SPAC merger but with the SPAC market cooling it will most likely go for an IPO and is already talking to investment banks.  He said, Ultimately when you are planning like us to be a company with revenue of $1 billion and worth $15-20 billion then you have to be publicly traded."

Livne continued, "The transcription market has been ripe for innovation. That's the initial reason why I founded 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. 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."

Sapphire Ventures president and partner Jai Das said, "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. 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. We're looking forward to continuing to be part of this exciting journey with Verbit."

Verbit says it aims to lead the $30 billion transcription industry and fulfill its mission to make all video and audio content accessible to everyone, everywhere, through its high-quality AI-powered automatic captioning and transcription solutions.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 8, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

Tom Livne / Photo: Shlomi Yosef , Globes
Tom Livne / Photo: Shlomi Yosef , Globes
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