AI startup Speak raises $16 million in latest funding led by Lachy Groom

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows AI (Artificial Intelligence) letters and computer motherboard

(Reuters) - Speak, an artificial intelligence (AI)-backed English language learning platform, said on Thursday that it has raised $16 million in fresh funding led by venture capitalist Lachy Groom.

The funding round, in which existing investor OpenAI Startup Fund and new investors like Dropbox founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi also participated, brings the total amount of money raised by Speak to $63 million and will help the company's expansion into international markets, it said in a statement.

The company declined to disclose its valuation or user numbers in an email to Reuters on Thursday. Lachy Groom's Fund had participated in Speak's previous funding round in which it raised $20 million.

The success of ChatGPT, OpenAI's conversational bot, has spurred a race among numerous AI firms such as Google-backed Runway and Microsoft-backed Inflection AI, attracting investors who are looking for the next big breakthrough in the fast-developing technology.

San Francisco-based Speak, which was founded in 2016, has users in more than 20 countries including Japan, Taiwan, Germany, France, Brazil and Mexico, the company said.

OpenAI Startup Fund is investing $100 million in AI firms and is looking for early-stage startups in sectors including healthcare, climate change and education, according to its website. The fund's investors consist of Microsoft and other OpenAI partners.

(Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama in Bengaluru; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee)