KUDO, Inc., creator of the eponymous cloud-based video conferencing platform that incorporates real-time multilingual interpretation supporting over 100 spoken languages and 147 signed languages, announced the close of its $21 million series A funding round led by Felicis Ventures. Felicis, who led the seed round, is joined by a group of investors including Maverick Ventures, Elephant VC, FJ Labs, Global Founders Capital, and investor Bill Ackman. This group joins original investors ID8 Investments, Advancit Capital, and AirAngels to bring the total round of funding to nearly $27 million. According to KUDO, this new capital will be used for talent attraction, product engineering, marketing, and business expansion.
KUDO was established in 2017 as a remote interpretation solutions provider and has since grown into a well-recognized platform for multilingual online meetings. The company saw significant growth in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic shifted global business to a largely virtual format, and in early 2021 also launched KUDO Marketplace, a scheduling and automated interpreter booking platform. In an email conversation with MultiLingual, KUDO CEO Fardad Zabetian said that investors reacted positively to the launch of the Marketplace platform, and believe that it will “stimulate a whole new level of growth.”
The progress being made against COVID-19 means that the world will likely see at least a halting return to in-person events and conferences on a global scale some time during the calendar year. Despite this fact, hybrid meetings, combining both virtual and in-person modalities, are still predicted to be with us for some time, and Felicis partner Niki Pezeshki said that he believes that “the demand for [KUDO’s] multilingual conference platform will continue to grow along with globalization and businesses prioritizing collaborative, inclusive cultures.” Zabetian, for his part, said that he believes “the next phase of the future of work will include support for hybrid meetings” and sees KUDO as a way of ensuring that all parties have a similar experience.
Asked for specific initiatives the company is planning to pursue, Zabetian said that KUDO plans to use the funding to “broaden access to multilingual meetings, opening up use cases that hadn’t previously considered interpretation.”
The news is the latest a flurry of high profile investment and mergers and acquisitions activity in the language services space since the beginning of the year, involving such players as XTM, Straker, Iyuno, and BLEND (formerly One Hour Translation).